BNFL leaks report of sackings to limit damage

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Details of a management shake-up at British Nuclear Fuels' reprocessing plant at Sellafield will be announced today as the company responds to scathing criticisms from the Government's nuclear safety watchdog.

The report by BNFL is expected to confirm a "complete realignment" of senior managers and the appointment of a team of experts to act as "independent" safety assessors.

The report, called "Going Forward Safely", was leaked last night in an attempt to limit the damage the company has already suffered as a result of the scandal over data falsification at the Sellafield plant which was revealed by The Independent last September.

BNFL has hired a PR company, Bell Pottinger, to help to restore its damaged image. Bell Pottinger, which denied it had leaked the report, has previously advised BNFL against a "media blitz", recommending individual briefings with selected journalists known to be sympathetic to the company.

The Government's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, which has said that data falsification could not have happened if there was a proper safety culture, has worked closely with the company.

BNFL has offered to end the fragmented nature of the management structure, improve safety training and recruit more workers for key posts.

But the company refused to confirm reports that up to 45managers will be axed, along with the head of the operation, Jeremy Rycroft, despite Helen Liddell, the Trade and Industry minister, saying that there should be "no hiding in any corner" for its managers.