No hiding place over BNFL, says minister

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The Independent Online

The outcome of a swingeing review of management at British Nuclear Fuels in response to the falsification ofreprocessing data is expected in the next few days.

The Energy minister, Helen Liddell, made clear the falsification scandal at Sellafield in Cumbria was a failure of management. Asked by MPs on the Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee when a "new broom" would start sweeping through middle management, the minister replied: "I have made it absolutely plain that I want no one hiding in any corner. I have asked for a swingeing management review."

The outcome of the review is expected to be delivered to the Government within the next few days, Mrs Liddell said. Five workers were sacked over the falsification of fuel records last year, but there is speculation that a number of managers will be moved or dismissed.

Meanwhile, Mrs Liddell revealed that £3.2m had been spent on advisers' fees over the planned part-privatisation of BNFL, put back until after the next general election. Advisers have also been brought in to examine the company's accounts, which were heavily criticised by the select committee chairman Martin O'Neill last week for not being transparent.

Mrs Liddell said that to regain customer confidence in BNFL, it must do business more openly. Mr O'Neill replied: "The worry was that Sellafield was sitting there, glowing in the dark, for reasons we were not very clear about."

Mrs Liddell warned it was possible to talk down BNFL and said recent publicity could have a destabilising effect. The Government had not changed its view on BNFL continuing with reprocessing, which promised £12bn of business for the firm in the coming years.

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