Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley refuses to attend select committee

Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has said he will not attend a parliamentary select committee to discuss the treatment of his workforce insisting that he would not "stand idle" while the company is "subjected to public vilification".

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 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.

"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".

Mr Ashley reiterated an offer made to the committee that representatives could come and visit the warehouse in Shirebrook and accused them of "showboating".

He said: "You will have to apologise once you have been here.

"The current intention is not to go because they ought to come here and see it for themselves. They would make a more informed decision if they are able to see it themselves.

"They clearly don't care about the people at Sports Direct.

"In my opinion, they are just showboating.

"In my opinion, they are actually a joke.

"They don't care about people, they care about the business of politics. I actually care about the people at Sports Direct so I care that they are forced to come."

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