Sports Direct's Mike Ashley to be formally summoned before MPs

Mike Ashley at Tup Tup Palace

The Sports Direct founder, Mike Ashley, is to be formally summoned to appear before MPs to explain his company’s treatment of its workers.

Ashley will be issued with a demand to appear before the business select committee on 7 June after refusing to agree to a number of dates suggested by MPs.

A spokesman for the committee said it was reserving the right to take the matter further, “including seeking the support of the House of Commons in respect of any complaint of contempt” should the tycoon refuse to attend.

The formal demand is the latest in a spat between Ashley and MPs.

Ashley accused the committee of being “deliberately antagonistic” and abusing parliamentary procedure by trying to force him to give evidence

In a letter to Iain Wright, the chairman of the business, innovation and skills committee, the Newcastle United boss said he was disgusted by the MPs’ approach. That came after the committee warned him publicly last week that he risked being in contempt of parliament if he failed to appear.

Wright wrote to Ashley saying the committee wanted to ask him about his company’s treatment of staff, enforcement of the minimum wage and his internal review of Sports Direct’s practices.

The request came after a Guardian report last year into the treatment of workers at Sports Direct’s headquarters in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, that found they were subject to surveillance and lengthy searches that meant they effectively earned less than the minimum wage.

Ashley offered to meet MPs privately at Shirebrook but Wright declined, citing the “select committees’ commitment to transparency”.

The standoff is the second time Ashley has resisted attempts to make him appear before MPs. He declined an invitation to attend the Scottish affairs select committee last year, explaining he was busy on the dates suggested. Instead, the company sent its chairman, Keith Hellawell, who struggled to answer detailed questions.

Powered by article was written by Sarah Butler, for on Tuesday 15th March 2016 13.13 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010