A HUMAN resources expert who lost her claim that she was dismissed by Sellafield because she reported bullying allegations says she fears the case will deter would-be whistleblowers.

Alison McDermott, 56, was hired by Sellafield Limited after working for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

A recognised “national expert” in equality, diversity and inclusion, she was asked to look at those issues.

Yet in October 2018, after she had presented bosses with a report highlighting claims of “vile homophobic abuse, sexual harassment and bullying” at the nuclear site, her contract was terminated.

She told a 13-day tribunal in Leeds the allegations she highlighted were not investigated and no action was taken against a HR worker who allegedly told inappropriate jokes, touched female colleagues and bragged of sexual conquests.

But the tribunal panel rejected her claim, saying she could not be classed as a whistleblower and there was no “causal link” between her report and the termination of her contract.

Ms McDermott lodged claims against Sellafield, the NDA and Sellafield’s former HR director, Heather Roberts.

In an exclusive interview, Mrs McDermott said she was dumbfounded at losing the case, which had a “massive psychological impact” on her.

“I’ve been signed off work with severe stress and depression,” she said. “People have confirmed to me that they’ve experienced the culture I’ve drawn attention to. They’ve been shocked by the way I was treated.”

She said all three leaders of the NDA had confirmed that her past work performance was good. Asked if she regretted going to tribunal, she said: “Yes and no. Yes because of the huge toll it’s taken on me and no because even knowing what I know now, I don’t think I could have done anything else.

“I was aware of bullying and harassment allegations. I’ve spent 20 years working in diversity and feel I would have betrayed my values if I hadn’t said anything. I feel hugely betrayed.”

She claimed her dismissal was initially put down to financial reasons but then later blamed on her “performance”, which she disputes.

She added: “Nothing about my experience will encourage anybody to speak out about concerns. That’s one of my biggest worries.

Her husband Schea McDermott, 57, said: “She did this because she believed she was unfairly dismissed and she believes there are a lot of people in Sellafield who are being treated unfairly and the culture there is unsafe.”

A spokesman for Sellafield Limited said: “We welcome the decision of the tribunal. We are pleased the judgment recognises our handling of this issue did not breach our legal duties.

“We will now consider the judgment in full and reflect on the findings in detail. We remain committed to eradicating bullying and harassment at Sellafield. We do not tolerate this behaviour and where we find it, we address it.”

The tribunal judgement said that panel members were satisfied that Mrs McDermott’s contract was terminated because reliable information cast doubt on its balance and impartiality.

Mrs McDermott was paid £1,500 a day as a consultant. She said that she had never sought £1.17 million in damages for the 21 days she was employed by Sellafield. She said that figure represented potential lost future earnings if she were unable to work again.

By January, Sellafield had spent £220,000 on fighting the case. Mrs McDermott’s legal costs were £100,000, though she raised £30,000 through crowdfunding.

Mrs McDermott has yet to decide whether to appeal.