Under the intense scrutiny of the slavering hounds of the tabloid press, Balls did what all bullies do when put under pressure – he caved in. By summarily sacking Sharon Shoesmith without recourse to due process, he achieved the worst of all worlds. Having won her appeal against unfair dismissal, Shoesmith is now entitled to a compensation payment of some hundreds of thousands. Cue massed outrage from the rabid right and various ministers of state who really should know better.
Despite all his blustering, “it leaves a very bad taste in the mouth” and harrumphing, Balls has only himself to blame. Not that he will. The man who single-handedly is the gift that keeps on giving to the Tory party is not the most sensitive of souls. He was very involved with that slimy ‘smear-meister’ McBride and was at the heart of the nastiness in the feud between Brown and Blair.
Why is it his fault? Simply because he wanted to look tough when the media outrage was at fever pitch. He could - and should - have waited for due process to take its course. That would have taken a degree more bottle (or even Balls?) It is not difficult to imagine that given a fair hearing Shoesmith would have been sacked ––without any pay-off.
All those of you who poo-poo ‘due process’ need to remember this is a system that has evolved over many years to do as much as possible to ensure fairness is built into employment practices. A much saner method than rule by witch-hunt. And as Minister of State for Education at the time, Balls should have known better.