A HUMAN resources expert who lost her claim she was dismissed by Sellafield because she reported bullying allegations is appealing the decision.

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.

She made a report that alleged there was "vile homophobic abuse, sexual harassment and bullying" at the workplace.

She presented the report to bosses and her contract was terminated in October 2018.

She said at a 13-day tribunal in Leeds the allegations she made in the report 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.

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

She was told by Sellafield she was terminated because of 'funding constraints', something she said Sellafield lied to her and their governing body about, but at the tribunal, Sellafield's lawyers said it was actually because of her report, which they said was 'questionable and insubstantial'.

Since the tribunal's decision, she said she has been 'threatened' with costs of £40k and £20k each.

She said of this: "I think it makes them look incredibly spiteful and vindictive and I feel that I am being persecuted by Sellafield Limited (SL) and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) for speaking out on behalf of others and the public interest.

"I found out via a Subject Access Request that the governing body used public money to seek legal advice about whether they could "shut down my crowdfunding site".

"The treatment that I have received is medieval.

"Let's get this straight, whistle-blowers do not make things up, they speak out in good faith.

"No-one puts themselves through this harrowing process for their own self-interest.

"The adversarial nature of the ET drives people bankrupt and makes them mentally and physically unwell and that is the reason that so few people take legal action.

"SL and the NDA say they are not doing this to punish me but to recover costs for the taxpayer but if they were so concerned about the taxpayer, they would have considered mediation, but they twice turned it down.

"This matter could have been settled years ago using the mediation process saving everyone huge sums of money Instead, they have spent more than £600 of taxpayers money fighting me.

"I am appealing to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, and I am vigorously contesting the cost threats.

"There have been many times when it would have been so easy to pack it all in and walk away, I have been portrayed as a gold-digger, but it has never been about the money.

"The proof of this is that the NDA offered me £160k a few days before the hearing to settle the case. but I was not prepared to do that as the offer came with conditions which would have prevented me from speaking out about my concerns, my silence is not for sale.

"I am determined to see this through, if they think the cost threats will intimidate me then it is a spectacular miscalculation.

"If anything, the latest cost threats have made by determined to keep going because it just exposes their hypocrisy.

"I saw the data; I spoke to countless employees who told me that they were being bullied and harassed.

"I know there is something seriously amiss with the culture at Sellafield, they say they are changing, and their vision is to be “be kind”, I think the way they are hounding me proves that their words are as hollow as ever.

"Employees don’t pay attention to what is written on the walls, they pay attention to what goes on in the halls.

"No-one at SL will come forward when they see the way I am being treated which I am sure is exactly how they want it.

"I fear we will have to wait for a major incident like Grenfell for anyone to look more closely at what is going on at Europe's most dangerous nuclear plant."

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.

Sellafield said, for legal reasons, they couldn’t comment on the appeal itself or any of the issues which will be considered during the process.

However, they were able to discuss why they’ve applied to recover a proportion of their costs in this case.

A Sellafield spokesman said: "We have an obligation to defend ourselves against legal action that could incur large sums in compensation to UK taxpayers, particularly when claims made against us are without foundation as in this case.

"This was a complex case, stretching over a number of years, which required more than three weeks' worth of attendance at Employment Tribunal hearings, for which we were entitled to legal representation.

"In light of the findings of the tribunal, which dismissed all of the claims made against us, we have applied to recover a proportion of our legal costs."

Sellafield has previously said it was "committed to eradicating bullying and harassment at Sellafield", adding: "We do not tolerate this behaviour and where we find it, we address it."