Sellafield bosses under fire over £6m bonuses
Published at 11:52, Monday, 09 September 2013
Sellafield bosses are under fire over huge bonuses and dubious expense claims – £100,000 of which have had to be repaid.
Senior managers at the nuclear site received bonuses of more than £6 million over three years, paid by the taxpayer, it has emerged.
And now Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) – the private consortium that runs Sellafield under contract to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) – has compensated the NDA after some executives wrongly claimed expenses from the public purse.
Examples include £714 for a car to ferry a director and their cat to the airport, and £2,795 for flights to the Savannah River nuclear site in the US, taking in the Masters golf tournament in Augusta.
There were other claims for transatlantic flights, some for more than £6,000.
One director claimed £100 for a taxi from their home to a dinner in Whitehaven.
And there were claims of £1,657 for a sofa, £2,260 for bedroom furniture, even for driving lessons, sports-club membership, flowers, gifts, books, DVDs and music downloads from iTunes.
The expense claims were made between 2008 and 2012 by members of the 16-strong Sellafield executive team, now headed by managing director Tony Price, who succeeded Dr Todd Wright earlier this year.
All are seconded to Sellafield from NMP on lucrative contracts.
Several are US nationals with generous relocation packages including entitlement to flights home.
But because they used Sellafield company credit cards to pay for spending, bills that should have gone to NMP were paid by the state-owned NDA instead. The abuses came to light when the NDA carried out a sample audit of 606 expense claims in May.
Its report, released under Freedom of Information legislation, identifies “serious deficiencies”. It says there is evidence that some claims were “unreasonable or excessive”.
Directors are supposed to stay in three-star hotels when on Sellafield business but most claims were for four or five-star hotels at up to £500 a night.
Following the audit, NMP checked all its records and repaid £100,000 to the NDA.
The NDA says it is satisfied that proper procedures are in place now while Sellafield Ltd, the NMP subsidiary in day-to-day charge of the site, says it took “prompt and decisive action” to ensure taxpayers were not out of pocket.
A statement from NMP says: “A very small proportion of expense claims were incorrectly registered to Sellafield Ltd.
“There is no evidence or suggestion of impropriety.
“As soon as this was brought to our attention we ensured that Sellafield Ltd’s procedures and training were tightened up and all inaccurate or potentially inaccurate claims reimbursed.”
Copeland MP Jamie Reed has referred the audit findings to the Public Accounts Committee and the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
He said: “The MPs’ expense scandal demonstrated that the public will not tolerate sickening abuses of taxpayers’ money.
“The west Cumbrian community and the Sellafield workforce will be outraged by these revelations.
“Taxis for cats and flights to the US Masters paid for by the public purse simply beggars belief.
“NMP has serious questions to answer about its corporate values and culture right across the Sellafield site.”
The Labour MP is calling on NMP to apologise and, as a “gesture of contrition”, pay £100,000 to the local community.
The GMB union is demanding an inquiry into the expenses and is calling for NMP’s contract to be torn up.
Regional secretary Billy Coates said: “GMB want an immediate investigation by the Public Accounts Committee into the use of taxpayers’ money on expenses claimed by executives at Sellafield Ltd who are seconded from NMP.”
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
Have your say
Rest in Peace 'BNFL' The fat cats are tearing up the body, next will be the wolves and hyenas, and finally the vultures to pick over the carcass. The gravestone will read 'A generous company where 'Science fell asleep!'
Many years ago, the company for whom I worked, sacked many hourly paid workers for false claims for expenses. They had claimed a mere Â£200 more than expected. So how long before these (supposed) roles models are made an example of? They should all be sacked.
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