Sellafield expenses row prompts union call for inquiry

Sellafield Nuclear Plant About 9,000 people are employed at Sellafield

Related Stories

Public money was used by bosses at Sellafield nuclear plant to pay for a "taxi for a cat", an audit found.

Claims by 16 staff seconded to the taxpayer-funded Sellafield Ltd emerged in a Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) report.

They include £2,795 for a trip to the US Masters golf and a £715 cab journey for an un-named executive "and cat".

The GMB union demanded a ministerial inquiry. Owners NMP accepted a number of expenses were submitted "in error".

The NDA said the audit highlighted "serious deficiencies" in procedures.

'No impropriety'

Copeland's Labour MP Jamie Reed said it was a "sickening abuse of public money" and union bosses have called for an inquiry.

The NDA's audit of Sellafield Ltd and its parent group Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) looked at 606 sample expenses claims submitted between 2008 and 2012, totalling £483,202.

Claims highlighted by the NDA

  • Flights totalling more than £27,000
  • £719 for Amazon purchases without receipts
  • Purchase of a £2,316 Apple desktop computer
  • Relocation expenses of £4,277 for a sofa and bedroom furniture

NMP - a consortium representing companies from the US, France and the UK - said "a very small proportion" of expense claims submitted by its staff had been registered to Sellafield Ltd in error.

It added an unspecified number of "incorrect claims" had been repaid and that there was "no evidence or suggestion of impropriety".

NMP staff were seconded from outside of the UK - mainly the USA - to work at the West Cumbria plant when it took control of the Sellafield complex in 2008.

It was awarded a multi billion-pound contract to manage the clean-up operation at the site, which is being carried out by Sellafield Ltd and overseen by the NDA.

The audit report also criticised the use of company credit cards for "home leave flights" by some executives who were on secondment from the US.

'Profound public concern'

Sellafield's Ltd's expenses are ultimately paid using public funds as the company is part-funded via the state-owned NDA, which in turn is responsible for the clean-up of the UK's ageing nuclear sites.

"In all cases where inaccurate claims were identified, repayments have been made," the NDA said in a statement.

But Mr Reed said: "There are genuine questions to be asked about the corporate culture prevalent within NMP when it comes to running the Sellafield site and the use of public money in doing that.

NDA audit conclusions

  • 306 claims worth £236,781 had inadequate descriptions
  • 55 worth £30,557 related to personal expenditure
  • 77 worth £45,083 had no supporting receipts
  • 55 worth £30,214 were deemed to be excessive

"This is an issue of profound public concern. Taxis for cats and flights to the US Masters paid for by the public purse simply beggars belief."

The claim made for the taxi was to take a director and their cat to an airport for "repatriation" purposes, the NDA said.

Billy Coates, GMB Regional Secretary for Northern Region, said "We want an immediate investigation by the Public Accounts Committee into the use of taxpayer's money on expenses claimed by executives at Sellafield Ltd who are seconded from NMP.

"Privatisation at Sellafield has been a disaster and the NMP contract there must end."

Sellafield Ltd said its executive team was made up of "leading nuclear experts" from around the world and it recognised its expenses guidelines were "complicated and bureaucratic".

A spokesman added: "We are aware that a failure to understand those processes has, in a small number of cases, meant that some claims have been made which should have been made against our parent body organisation, Nuclear Management Partners."

"We have changed the process for managing executive credit card transactions so that, from now, they are automatically claimed from NMP in the first instance.

"We have also provided training for all executive members and their personal assistants, to ensure accurate reporting in the future."

Last week, it emerged executives at NMP had received more than £6m in taxpayer-funded bonuses over the last three years in relation to the Sellafield contract.

More on This Story

Related Stories

From other news sites

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Cumbria

Weather

Carlisle

15 °C 9 °C

Features & Analysis

  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa


  • Woman in swimming pool Green stuff

    The element that makes a familiar smell when mixed with urine


  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health


  • The OfficeIn pictures

    Fifty landmark shows from 50 years of BBC Two


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • ITChild's play

    It's never been easier for small businesses to get their message out to the world

Programmes

  • Tuna and avacadoThe Travel Show Watch

    Is Tokyo set to become the world's gourmet capital?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.