Sports Direct boss ordered to face MPs

15 Mar


Mike AshleyImage copyright
PA

Image caption

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

MPs have decided to issue a formal summons ordering Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley to give evidence to them about the treatment of his workers.

He previously declined an invitation to appear before the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee.

In a letter he accused MPs of “abusing Parliamentary procedure in order to create a media circus”.

The committee has warned him that he could be in contempt of Parliament if he ignores the summons.

It will require Mr Ashley to give evidence at Westminster on 7 June.

‘Extremely disappointed’

A spokesman for the committee said it “reserved the right to take the matter further, including seeking the support of the House of Commons in respect of any complaint of contempt” should Mr Ashley not appear.

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Mike Ashley has invited the committee to come to the Sports Direct premises in Shirebrook, Derbyshire

The invitation followed a BBC investigation into the work practices at the company’s warehouse in Shirebrook.

In a letter to Mr Ashley, committee chairman Iain Wright MP said: “The committee would like to hear about the action that you have taken in response to reports in the media about the treatment of workers at Sports Direct and about the scope, progress and timetable of your own review of working practices that you announced in December.

“The treatment of low paid workers and enforcement of the national minimum wage are issues that the committee will be keeping under review over the coming months.”

‘Abusing parliamentary procedure’

The Newcastle United FC owner was given a deadline of 21 March to respond to the letter.

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

He wrote: “By refusing to visit Sports Direct to see things with your own eyes, you are missing out on a genuine opportunity to gain a detailed and balanced understanding of the matters you wish to discuss.

“I believe you are abusing parliamentary procedure in an attempt to create a media circus in Westminster, which is not in the best interests of any of the people who work at Sports Direct.”

Sports Direct said it was “extremely disappointed” the BIS committee had “apparently chosen to turn down Mike Ashley’s invitation.”

“We will be responding to the committee in due course,” it added.

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