Mike Ashley has renewed his invitation for MPs to visit his Shirebrook HQ and observe Sports Direct’s business practices, and is happy for “all forms of media to also be in attendance.”
The Sports Direct owner offered the invitation “for the avoidance of doubt” in a letter to Labour MP Iain Wright. Wright, the Chairman of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, warned Ashley this week that he would be held in contempt of parliament if he failed to agree to a date to answer MPs’ questions on Sports Direct’s treatment of its workers.
“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,” Wright said.
Ashley had previously offered MPs the chance to attend his Shirebrook HQ. Following Wright’s threat that he could be held in ‘contempt of parliament’ for not appearing before MPs, Ashley accused them of creating “a media circus”.
“I was disgusted to learn that you have adopted a stance that is deliberately antagonistic,” Ashley wrote to Wright.
“I believe you are abusing parliamentary procedure in an attempt to create a media circus… which is not in the best interests of any of the people working at Sports Direct.”
Following an investigation by The Guardian a media scandal quickly grew about warehouse workers at Sports Direct, who were found to be effectively earning below minimum wage. Though MPs quickly responded, the “media circus” was hardly politically driven.
“My invitation to the whole committee to visit Shirebrook remains open to you,” Ashley continued.
“For the avoidance of doubt, if you wish to ensure transparency, I am happy for all forms of media to also be in attendance at the meeting.”
Since the investigation, Sports Direct’s share prices have plummeted, taking the company out of the FTSE 100. Ashley’s personal fortune has fallen by £1bn.
Ashley has until 21 March to deliver his reply to Wright.