Sports Direct has denied having “any knowledge” of the camera found by MPs during a visit to the sports retailer’s Shirebrook warehouse yesterday.
The MPs, part of the business select committee, which published a report into the working practices at the firm this summer, found a camera placed under a stool when they were brought a plate of sandwiches for lunch.
The MPs gave Sports Direct three hours’ notice of their arrival, responding to chief executive Mike Ashley’s invite to visit Shirebrook unannounced.
Anna Turley, MP for Redcar, called the situation “bizarre” and said: “The poor woman who brought in a tray of sandwiches had to try and hide a camera under the table”.
“Unbelievable end to our Sports Direct visit finding this camera filming our private MPs committee meeting,” said Amanda Milling, MP for Cannock Chase, who tweeted a picture of a plate of sandwiches next to a small digital camera.
“Camera in situ following its discovery in our ’private’ meeting room following Sports Direct warehouse tour,” added Craig Tracey, MP for North Warwickshire and Bedworth. “Absolutely unbelievable.”
The Sports Direct board said it “would like to make it clear that it did not authorise or have any knowledge of the possible recording device”.
“The board is disappointed that reporting of a possible recording device (the veracity of which has yet to be determined) has overshadowed the truly important issues that this visit should have focused on – the true working conditions and worker satisfaction at Shirebrook,” the firm added.
Sports Direct said it was disappointed the MPs chose to visit on a day when they knew chief executive Mike Ashley would not be on site. It said there was an impromptu session where workers shared their views with MPs, with many expressing dissatisfaction with how the company was portrayed by the committee and the media.
Ashley said: “I stand firmly behind the people of Sports Direct, who through no fault of their own have been made a political football by MPs and unions.”