Sports Direct boss brands MPs ‘a joke’

21 Mar


Mike AshleyImage copyright
PA

Image caption

Sports Direct was founded by billionaire Mike Ashley – who also owns Newcastle United Football Club

Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley has branded MPs “a joke” and confirmed he will not give evidence in Parliament about how his workers are treated.

Mr Ashley responded after being summoned to appear in Parliament and warned he could be held in contempt.

He also urged MPs to attend his firm’s Derbyshire headquarters – an invitation they declined.

The Commons business committee said it was “disappointed” about Mr Ashley’s refusal to attend.

“It is telling that he chose to give his response to the media rather than to the committee directly,” said Iain Wright MP, chair of the Business, Skills and Innovation Committee.

However, Mr Ashley told Sky News he felt MPs were “showboating”.

Mr Ashley – who also owns Newcastle United Football Club – had been asked to attend Westminster on 7 June on the back of a BBC investigation into Sports Direct’s warehouse working practices.

He had until Monday to respond to a letter from Mr Wright, the Hartlepool MP.

In his response, on 10 March, Mr Ashley asked the committee to come to the Sports Direct premises.

Image copyright
PA

Image caption

Sports Direct has come under fire in recent months over its “Dickensian working practises”

Mr Ashley said he will not “stand idle” while Sports Direct is “subjected to public vilification”.

“The current intention is not to go, because [MPs] ought to see it for themselves,” he told Sky News.

“In my opinion, they’re just showboating. In my opinion, they’re actually a joke.

“They don’t care about the people, they care about the business of politics.”

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Mr Ashley had invited the committee to come to the Sports Direct premises in Shirebrook, Derbyshire

Mr Wright told the BBC the matter will be discussed at the next committee meeting on Tuesday.

“I’m very disappointed that Mr Ashley has refused to accept the committee’s request to come and give evidence in Parliament, like every other witness for every other select committee voluntarily does,” he added.

The committee will now need to raise a complaint of contempt, and the House of Commons would then decide whether a contempt has been committed.

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