Toxic Culture at Sellafield Nuclear Plant: We Need the Truth

by Sellafield Whistleblower - Alison McDermott

Toxic Culture at Sellafield Nuclear Plant: We Need the Truth

by Sellafield Whistleblower - Alison McDermott
Sellafield Whistleblower - Alison McDermott
Case Owner
I have spent most of my career championing equality and fairness in the workplace. I blew the whistle because I believed serious issues at a nuclear plant were not being addressed.
on 31st July 2019
pledged of £60,000 stretch target from 443 pledges
Sellafield Whistleblower - Alison McDermott
Case Owner
I have spent most of my career championing equality and fairness in the workplace. I blew the whistle because I believed serious issues at a nuclear plant were not being addressed.

Latest: March 12, 2022

Please help fund an Appeal. I have put everything on the line.

Firstly, thank you so much for your  previous support. 

I couldn't update you until now as I had to wait six months for a decision which has devastated me.  I will keep th…

Read more

Please donate to my new Campaign by following this link -

"Sellafield abruptly terminated my contract after I raised serious concerns about the abuse of employees working there and leaders' failure to investigate or take action. I have lodged a whistleblowing and victimisation case in the Employment Tribunal and would be grateful for your support so that the issues I unearthed come to light. Please donate and share widely with your friends and colleagues on social media. Donations can be made anonymously." Alison McDermott, Diversity Consultant


The potential dangers on the Sellafield nuclear site are obvious; an estimated 40% of the world's plutonium is stored there and a major incident would contaminate large parts of Northern Europe. It is of particular importance that a safe and secure environment is maintained.  As I discovered whilst working there, Sellafield is characterised by a deep-rooted toxic working culture with numerous reports of bullying, harassment and discrimination.

The key objective of this crowdfunding is to raise the funds needed for a legal case. 


  1. 1 in 20 say they are being bullied or harassed.
  2. A quarter of employees say bullying and harassment are tolerated.
  3. A quarter of employees say offensive comments are tolerated.

The CEO admitted to being ashamed and embarrassed by these findings y
et the current state of Sellafield is the direct result of the decisions made by those in charge. 

In addition to the survey data, employees shared vivid stories of harassment, discrimination and bullying with me. Many said they felt too defeated or intimidated to speak out. I spoke out on their behalf and, in response, my long-term contract was abruptly terminated. 

I believe that Sellafield's retaliation sends a powerful and frightening message to its employees - don’t blow the whistle or speak out or there will be reprisals. 

The risks to the employees - and the wider public - of this kind of working culture being permitted to thrive at Sellafield are self-evident and must not be tolerated. There is a clear link between employees who are too demoralised to speak out and safety failings and the impact this can have on their own health and well-being.


After the initial unsatisfactory response from Sellafield Ltd, I raised my concerns directly with the Director of Stakeholder Relations at the parent company (the NDA). I also told him I believed I was being victimised for speaking out. 

I hoped they would respond to my concerns, particularly as they had worked closely with me and appeared to value my expertise:- 

“Alison is hugely experienced and has made a massive impact here in changing the way we look at diversity and inclusion.  Her deep technical knowledge and great personal style have delivered significant results.”   
Paul Vallance, Director of Stakeholder Relations. LinkedIn Testimonial, July 2018.

The NDA assured me they would investigate but I heard nothing further. 

I found their inaction devastating; I believed that, as a parent body, they would act to investigate and stop the retaliation against me. I was wrong. I have now exhausted every internal route and so the only option left is legal action and public scrutiny. 


Sellafield and the NDA have instructed two national law firms to oppose me, using taxpayers' money. It is for this reason that I am exploring all funding options as justice cannot just be available for those with the deepest pockets.

Please donate if you care about the abuse of employees or the safe running of a nuclear plant.

Donations can be made anonymously via this site. I have instructed the law firm Leigh Day and your donations will help to fund this critical case.

Thank you for any support you can offer.

A final word to the employees at Sellafield
" I have serious concerns about the way employees are treated - described by one employee as "draconian."  I heard blatant accounts of sexist, racist and homophobic behaviour which shocked me to the core. 

The employees I met placed their trust in me and shared their stories in the hope that things might change. I do not want to let them down. Finances permitting,  I will keep speaking out to make sure this wrongdoing stops and employees are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve."

Tel: 07932 040080

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Update 9

Sellafield Whistleblower - Alison McDermott

March 12, 2022

Please help fund an Appeal. I have put everything on the line.

Firstly, thank you so much for your  previous support. 

I couldn't update you until now as I had to wait six months for a decision which has devastated me.  I will keep this really simple.
I lost my Employment Tribunal Case in June 2021.  The Judge, who 
I believe ignored masses of my evidence, has just sanctioned a costs order of £40,000. I am appealing both the Judgments.

The best way to understand the way I believe I have been persecuted is to read the article below.

Can You Help Please?

I believe that my case has huge issues for public safety.  That is why I refused to agree to settlement as I was determined to ensure that their actions were subject to scrutiny.  Even though this mean meant more grinding stress going through a three week trial in which my character and competence were repeatedly attacked. A court of law should be a place of justice; instead, it felt like a place of abuse. 

I need to raise £20k to fund my Appeal. My legal costs to date have already exceeded £
100,000.  A Freedom of Information request revealed that they spent £600k of taxpayers’ money defending this case. I received no state support. The inequality of resources is grotesque and offensive. My supporters are my only hope to redress the huge imbalance.

I have put everything on the line to speak out in support of others and in support of the public interest. It is critical that I am not beaten back due to lack of funds. After all, when they are finished with me: Who's next? What's next?

As we can see from the horrendous events unfolding in Ukraine, a nuclear plant poses massive risks to us all. The consequences, in my opinion, of a serious accident, theft, sabotage, terrorism could be catastrophic. A healthy culture does not bully and harass its workers and it does not crush people who speak out.

Update 8

Sellafield Whistleblower - Alison McDermott

May 10, 2021

FT is on the case

I am really proud that the FT is writing about the lack of support for whistleblowers and the truly hideous impact it has on those who just try to do the right thing by others.

My case is due to heard on 14 June at Leeds ET.  Two weeks ago, the governing body of the NDA applied at the 11th hour (again)  to have  my claim against them struck out.  I am in the midst of preparing for trial and we are about to exchange witnesses statements so this latest move by the NDA has caused me immense extra pressure when I am unrepresented.  The  NDA submitted this application one week after I disclosed a report from my GP and a psychiatrist outlining the toll  2.5 years of litigation has taken on my mental health.

This is why I am fighting this case because I refuse to be browbeaten and I will fight for justice.

Thank you for your continuing support.

Please share widely on your social media.


Update 7

Sellafield Whistleblower - Alison McDermott

March 10, 2021

BBC News Today

I am featured on the BBC News today exposing an unsafe culture and practices Sellafield - Europe's most dangerous nuclear plant. I am one of many whistleblowers who spoke to the BBC.

I am an HR and Diversity Consultant. I  repeatedly spoke out about endemic racism and sexism and bullying at Europe's most dangerous nuclear plant. 

In response, Sellafield's HR Director instantly dismissed me.

I appealed to the governing body, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, to allow me to meet with the Board and hear my concerns. They refused. Instead they threatened me with costs. And then they tried to shut down  this crowdfunding site.

I will not let them stop me and suppress the issues but I need your support.

Please Help to Support this Vital Case

After nearly 2.5 years of battling these institutions, I need an injection of help. I can't keep doing this on my own as I have already spent over 70k on legal fees.

There is a danger that if I do not get enough legal firepower then critical issues at a nuclear plant will be brushed under the carpet. 

As the BBC reports today, employees are too scared to speak out which is a massive safety risk to us all. For example, the Sellafield Staff Survey revealed that only 11% of staff strongly agreed that they could speak out without fear of reprisals – this is a terrifying statistic on a nuclear plan when openness should be a necessity. To be clear, a major incident would be catastrophic for the UK, our personal safety and for the environment.

Please also share this case and this crowdfunding site on your social media.

Update 6

Sellafield Whistleblower - Alison McDermott

Jan. 10, 2021

The governing body wanted to have this page "taken down."

I will never find the words to convey my gratitude to the kindness of strangers (and friends) who are coming forward to help me pursue a case of utmost public importance. 

I am lucky enough to have recently received the incredible support of Dr Chris Day, who is a very high profile NHS whistleblower (and someone who has inspired me hugely).

Please, please do spread the word re my crowdfunding website as every little helps. Whistleblowers receive no support from the government. Like Dr Day, I have been subject to cost threats and other tactics which I have found very intimidating.

And in a move which has shocked my supporters to the core, the governing body, the NDA, took legal advice to see if they could shut down this page - the only means of financial support I have to pursue this case.

Please see an extract of the email below. As you will see, the entire Board and Executive were informed of this plan.

I find the comments prepared for the press deeply ironic in light of their actions towards me.

I am now representing myself until I can raise some more funds (having already spent over £60k already on legal fees).
My main three week hearing is listed for June 2021 and I need to raise more funds to obtain legal representation.

I spoke out – and I will continue to speak out – about the issues at Sellafield because it is Europe's most dangerous nuclear site and I am profoundly concerned about the problems I unearthed.

Thank you,

Tel: +44 7932 040080

NB One day, if I am ever in a position to do so, I will repay this kindness by helping out other whistleblowers; the current situation in the UK re the lack of support for whistleblowers is utterly shocking. In the meantime, thank you so much for your interest and support. When you are an isolated whistleblower, fighting huge institutions, the support of others is hugely important.

Update 5

Sellafield Whistleblower - Alison McDermott

June 29, 2020

Update re Tribunal Hearing 7th July 2020

Dear All,

Many of you, who have kindly donated to my crowdfunding page, have contacted me over the previous months asking for an update on my whistleblowing case against Sellafield and the NDA.  I have been encouraged and sustained by the number of current and former employees who have been in touch to offer me their support. This case has been ongoing since December 2018 and the hearing on 7th July marks a significant landmark in this litigation.

In brief, I have been granted a one day hearing to consider if the defences of Sellafield and the NDA should be struck out on the basis that I consider the Respondents have behaved vexatiously and unreasonably throughout this litigation. As of February, I have been representing myself after the costs became too prohibitive (having exceeded 50k), although I have appointed a barrister, Mr Chris Milsom of Cloisters Chambers, to represent me on the 7th July.

The one day strike out hearing will be held via video conferencing. In response to those  who have asked it if is possible to attend this hearing remotely, I can confirm that the Manchester Employment Tribunal has advised that the hearing is public and members of the public can dial in and observe the hearing.

Further information regards this can be obtained from the Tribunal directly.

Manchester Employment Tribunal Contact Details

Tel: 0161 833 6100

Or if calling from Norway: 0044 161 833 6100

Email: [email protected]

Please mark all requests to attend/observe for the attention of Mr John Dunphy, who I understand is taking a record of those who wish to observe the proceedings and can provide further details.

I will update this site again once the outcome of the hearing is known.

Thank you all for your continued support.

Best wishes,


Tel: +44 7932 040080

Update 4

Sellafield Whistleblower - Alison McDermott

Aug. 1, 2019

First Goal Reached!

Thank you so much for helping me reach my 10k target yesterday.

I want to thank all of you who have so generously supported this cause. Many of you I know and many are unknown to me and it means so much to know that friends and strangers believe in this case and are supporting it.

As I hope I have managed to convey,  this case is about getting justice. It is about speaking out for the employees who work there, for the wider public interest and for the right to speak up and not be victimised. Your support will help me to speak up and have a voice for all these key issues.

This case is also about ensuring that leaders are held to account for their actions and inaction - not in a vindictive way but so that lessons can be learned for current and future employees. 

I am determined to keep going and press ahead and seek justice. Your support lifts me and encourages me more than words can convey.

So a simple but very heartfelt  "Thank You" from me.  


Update 3

Sellafield Whistleblower - Alison McDermott

July 16, 2019

Third Update

Thank you to everyone who has made a pledge to my campaign for justice.  Many of you I have been able to thank in person, but some of you have chosen to remain anonymous on the site but I want you ALL to know how much your support means.

I can see that some of you would like to contact me and so I am listing my details below:

Tel: 07932 040080.

Email:  [email protected]

Please contact me directly via these numbers.  I will maintain all confidentiality and I would like the chance to thank you for your support.

Thank you again,


Update 2

Sellafield Whistleblower - Alison McDermott

July 1, 2019

Second Update

Thank you to all of you who have donated and looked at this site. Please continue to share this page. It is of vital importance that the message gets out to as many people as possible.

We wanted  the public to know that Alison's friends are backing her.  We are a diverse a group of Norwegians, Irish and English friends supporting our friend, who we believe has been treated in the most disgraceful manner for speaking out against the abuse of employees at Sellafield

Dr Ian McDermott
Dr Frances Atkins
Professor Barrett
Professor Elliott
Reverend Jan Terje Christoffersen (amongst others)

When Alison's contract was abruptly terminated by Sellafield in October 2018, HR leaders alleged it was for unforeseen “budgetary issues.," then proceeded to award a contract to PA Consulting for 4.5 million pounds for services which included diversity consulting - the work Alison was contracted to deliver.

When Sellafield became aware that Alison was taking action against them for detriment and victimisation under whistleblowing legislation,  Sellafield is now alleging there were issues with her “manner and conduct”.   There is not a shred of written evidence to support this claim. Alison received nothing but glowing praise for the work she carried out at Sellafield and the NDA, the parent body.

Alison is determined not be silenced or intimidated, despite the stress this is causing her (she ended up in hospital with a suspected heart attack and is still undergoing further tests).

The fight is unfair with the odds hugely stacked against an individual

Sellafield Ltd and their parent body, the NDA, have access to the public purse.
Alison has to fund all the costs herself; she has already spent thousands to lodge a claim in the Employment Tribunal.  Any donation you make will go directly to her solicitors, Leigh Day, to make sure this case progresses to court and the issues are scrutinised in court. 

Please support Alison so she can speak up for others.

Alison is not just fighting for herself, she is also fighting for others. Every contribution is important.

With your help, Alison hopes to make a massive difference to so many peoples’ lives. 

Update 1

Sellafield Whistleblower - Alison McDermott

June 25, 2019

Great Start - thank you so much.

With such amazing support I have raised close to 50% of the initial target of £10k in the first 24 hours. 

It has given me an incredible boost to see contributions come in from Norwegian friends, colleagues and citizens as well as supporters in the UK.   It clearly demonstrates how important and far-reaching this campaign is.

Please continue to share this page with your friends, family and concerned colleagues so I can reach my  stretch target of £40,000 . There is still a long way to go but the early support means a huge amount and is very encouraging.

Thank you again & Tusen Takk


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