Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley refuses to appear before MPs over Sports Direct row

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has said he will not attend a parliamentary select committee to discuss the treatment of the workforce at the Sports Direct empire he founded.

Monday, 21st March 2016, 3:01 pm
Updated Monday, 21st March 2016, 3:04 pm
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley in the picking warehouse during a tour of the Sports Direct headquarters in Shirebrook, Derbyshire.

Mr Ashley has been summoned to appear before the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee following criticism of working practices at the company's warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire.

He was asked to appear before the committee by its chairman, Hartlepool MP Iain Wright

He said: "I do not pretend to get everything right all of the time, but I am not willing to stand idle while this company is subjected to public vilification which is against the best interests of everybody who works at Sports Direct.

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"My current intention is that I will not attend Westminster on June 7, as I believe the proposal by Iain Wright (whom I have offered to meet in Shirebrook) is an abuse of the parliamentary process.

"If they genuinely cared, they could genuinely come and see it for themselves.

"They can come to Sports Direct Shirebrook 365 days a year, we will make ourselves available. Sports Direct has nothing to hide."

The committee has been seeking to question Mr Ashley about working practices at his Shirebrook warehouse, including reports of poor working conditions and the use of controversial zero-hours contracts.

In his letter sent earlier this month, Mr Wright, the chairman of the committee, warned if Mr Ashley failed to agree a date to give evidence, the committee reserved the right to take the matter further "including seeking the support of the House of Commons in respect of any complaint of contempt".