FORMER social services chief Sharon Shoesmith has won an appeal against the way she was sacked over the Baby P scandal.

The director was dismissed in December 2008 after an damning Ofsted inquiry, ordered by former Children's Secretary Ed Balls, said her department was failing.

But in hearing at the Court of Appeal this morning, her lawyers argued the procedures used when she was sacked were unfair, and judges allowed her appeal.

Speaking outside the court, Ms Shoesmith said: “I'm very relieved to have won my appeal and for the recognition that I was treated unfairly and unlawfully.

“I've spent a lifetime protecting, caring, and educating children, and my sorrow at the death of Peter Connelly in Haringey while I was director is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

“But as the judges have said, making the public sacrifice of an individual would not prefer further tragedies.”

She also paid tribute to Haringey's headteachers who she said had supported her both publicly and privately.

17-month-old Peter Connelly, was on Haringey's child protection register when he died violently at the hands of his mother, Tracey Connelly, her boyfriend Steven Barker, and Barker's brother Jason Owen, in August 2007.

Ms Shoesmith argued that her sacking was a result of the subsequent media coverage, and that Haringey Council had not given her a fair hearing.

Mr Balls announced her dismissal at a press conference on live television, without giving her the usual disciplinary proceedings – something judges ruled was unfair.

She argued she was entitled to her full salary and pension from the council for the last two and a half years.

But her separate appeal against the Ofsted report which led to her dismissal was rejected by judges.

Ofsted's chief inspector Christine Gilbert said: “I am pleased that Ofsted has comprehensively won this case and that the original judicial review judgement in our favour has been upheld in every aspect on appeal.

“Ofsted carried out a robust inspection and came to a sound conclusion based on evidence. On any view, our inspection report was extremely critical and there has been no challenge to the finding that services for children in Haringey were inadequate.

“The most important thing, of course, is that Haringey’s children’s services are now much improved as a result and that children are better protected.”

The Department for Education said it would be appealing the verdict.

In a statement, it said: “We have made an application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. We are awaiting the decision on that from the Court of Appeal.”