Sports Direct boss snubs MP's threats to appear to Parliament

Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has snubbed a MP's threatening letter calling him out for avoiding MPs questions.

Friday, 11th March 2016, 9:48 am
Updated Friday, 11th March 2016, 12:21 pm
Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has responded to threats by MPs with his own damning letter - calling them out for creating a media circus.

The billionaire and 51-year-old founder of the company based in Shirebrook, was summoned to give evidence to a Parliamentary select committee over revelations that staff were effectively paid under minimum wage.

But after failing to meet an invitation he was threatened with 'contempt of Parliament' by Iain Wright MP. The retail firm boss responded with his own invitation to visit the Shirebrook warehouse and see for themselves how workers are treated.

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Mike Ashley's letter to MP Iain Wright.

Mr Ashley has now responded to MPs threats. In an open letter he wrote: "I was disgusted to learn that you have adopted a stance that is deliberately antagonistic.]By refusing to visit Sports Direct to 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.

Mike Ashley's letter to MP Iain Wright.

"My invitation to the whole committee to visit Shirebrook remains open to you. For the avoidance of doubt, if you with to ensure transparency, I am happy for all forms of the media to also be in attendance at that meeting."

Hartlepool MP and chairman of the business, innovation and skills (BIS) committee, Iain Wright's, threat letter to Mr Ashley stated: "A number of alternative dates have been offered to you by the committee clerk, but as yet you have not accepted any of them, nor agreed in principle to attend. As you will be aware, select committees do not normally need to have recourse to our formal powers to summon witnesses in order to secure attendance; refusal to attend without good reason may be considered a contempt of the house.

“Should you fail in your reply to agree to attend on one of the dates offered to you, or a mutually convenient alternative before 1 June, the committee reserves the right to take the matter further, including seeking the support of the House of Commons in respect of any complaint of contempt.”

Chris Bryant MP said yesterday the House of Commons could "force him to attend" a committee hearing.

He added: "He may be the 22nd richest man in Britain but he is running a modern-day sweatshop and this House will get to the truth."

A spokesperson for the business, innovation and skills committee said: "The Committee will consider Mr Ashley’s correspondence and next steps at their meeting on Tuesday."