I did some work for a client some months ago to remove links to her site placed by an SEO company which led to a Google penalty.
Google responded saying that while we had removed a number of links they wanted to see more removed before taking away the penalty. We have since removed some more, but were still working on this when we noticed that the Google penalty has been removed from her webmaster tools account and that in fact the site is beginning to rank slightly better.

Can anyone explain how this has happened when we hadn't submitted another reconsideration request (in fact we can't because the link to this has gone), or a further disavow links submission? Has this happened to anyone else?

disavow links submission was the best option in this situation
can u explain further on the types of links you had placed

I hadn't placed any links. An SEO company had done so. The mystery was that the site had ceased to be penalised by Google despite them previously asking for more links to be removed and no further disavow file or reconsideration request being submitted

Well, this isn't happening with me I would say no one can ever explain this rather than the Google itself, what I am considering is they may have found that you have put on the enough effort and so they might have revoke the penatly but still what I doubt is if google has revoke the penatly they must have sent some messages that your penalty has been revoke or ..... ?

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