Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has reportedly threatened MPs with legal action for breaching his human rights, after the Scottish Affairs Committee published details of why he cannot attend a hearing over his dealings with young fashion retailer USC.
Earlier this month, Ashley told MPs it was more appropriate that Sports Direct chief executive David Foley attend the committee, which is investigating the collapse of USC and how 200 warehouse workers in Dundonald lost their jobs with only a 15-minute consultation period.
The Scottish Affairs Committee subsequently published some of the correspondence and Ashley’s law firm, RPC, has written to MPs to demand to know why they did so without his consent, The Telegraph reports.
“We can see no basis on which you were entitled to publish any of that confidential correspondence without Sports Direct International’s consent,” RPC wrote, according to the newspaper. “The fact that you have done so is considered likely to amount to a breach of our client’s confidence as a matter of law and we fully reserve all of Sports Direct International’s legal rights.”
The committee responded by claiming that it cannot be sued as the publication of the letters is covered by Parliamentary privilege – but RPC disagreed, arguing “the defence of Parliamentary privilege would not necessarily provide a defence to a claim that to publish correspondence that was clearly marked as ‘confidential’ violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights”.
The committee dismissed this argument on the basis that the correspondence did not contain any personal information.