When Whistleblowing Goes Nuclear

by Alison McDermott

When Whistleblowing Goes Nuclear

by Alison McDermott
Alison McDermott
Case Owner
Fighting to reveal safety-critical issues at Europe's most dangerous nuclear plant
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pledged of £20,000 stretch target from 129 pledges
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Alison McDermott
Case Owner
Fighting to reveal safety-critical issues at Europe's most dangerous nuclear plant
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Why This Case is of Critical Public Interest
I am Alison McDermott and I’m raising funds for my whistleblowing appeal against Sellafield Ltd - a nuclear site housing vast quantities of radioactive material.

The risks of the site - an accident, terrorism, theft, sabotage - are so serious that it is permanently guarded by teams of armed nuclear police. 

The Warning Signs 
A failure to run the site properly could be catastrophic. I believe the issues I unearthed significantly increase that risk. Here's why:-

  1. Scared to Speak Out
    An employee survey revealed that only a tiny minority of staff (11%) strongly agreed that they could speak out for fear of reprisals. At a hazardous nuclear site. Just let that sink in.

  2. Damning View of Leaders
    Just 4% of staff strongly agreed leaders were open and honest in their communications. That's right: 4%. In other words, virtually zero.

  3. A Culture of Bullying and Harassment
    Sellafield hired me, an HR expert, to investigate the workplace culture. I discovered that employees were subjected to appalling racist, sexist and homophobic abuse and relentless bullying.

  4. Instant Dismissal 
    I raised repeated concerns about these issues. When I submitted a report detailing serious problems with the leadership of the HR function, the HR Director dismissed me overnight.

  5. With a culture and leadership like this, how can employees work safely? And how can leaders be trusted to safeguard the world's largest stockpile of plutonium? 

My Silence Was Not for Sale   
The governing body of Sellafield denied any responsibility for nearly three years, then made me a last minute offer of £160,000 to drop my whistleblowing case. I immediately turned it down. I didn't even counter-offer as it's never been about the money. I wanted the issues aired in court.  When the 'offer'  didn't work, Sellafield then decided to vilify me.

The ET Hearing: June 2021 
An Horrific Experience  
Sellafield's barrister, Deshpal Panesar KC, repeatedly denigrated me. He accused me of ‘acting out of revenge'  that I was 'intent on ruining careers’ of being ‘self-absorbed' and 'a woman clearly in pursuit of a windfall.'  

These vile accusations are totally irrelevant to the legal arguments. They are also untrue. I had just turned down £160,000 and they knew that. No ethical organisation descends to this level to attack an individual like this. And yet they did. They then came after me again, this time financially.

More Intimidation: Cost Threats 
When the ET found against me, they immediately pursued me for £40,000 of costs. This is despite knowing I had become ill and had no income. 

They Even Tried To Shut Down My Crowdfunding Website
Please read this disgraceful email below to the Board and Executive team describing:-

  1. Their attempt to shut down my only source of funding;
  2. While saying they encourage staff to speak out.
    Email to the Board

Impact on Me and Others
I spoke out in the public interest and in return I have been dismissed, vilified and pursued for costs. The way they have treated me has nearly broken me. And, of course, it acts as a terrifying deterrent to others to stay silent.

'Just imagine the potential consequences of thousands of staff being too scared to flag issues at a nuclear site that could literally destroy lives and devastate our environment.'

Appeal Hearing: 17/18th January 2023
Fantastic news: I’ve been granted permission to appeal the judgment on eight grounds. They will now face fresh scrutiny in a higher court in London.

Andrew Allen KC, a senior barrister and renowned expert in whistleblowing, will represent me. But having already spent £100,000 on legal  bills, I’ve reached my financial limits. 

No-one goes through 4 years of hellish stress and turns down £160k for their own self-interest. 

I am doing this because I believe the culture at Sellafield represents an epic failure of leadership and puts us all at risk. That’s the message they don’t want you to hear. And that’s precisely why I need your help to keep speaking out and holding them to account.

Thank you for your support.


NB If they try to shut down this crowdfunding page, I will update you via this site.

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