Tensions are mounting ahead of Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley’s select committee hearing on June 7, after the business, innovation and skills committee turned down his offer to visit the Shirebrook headquarters the day before.
Ashley offered to transport BIS committee members to the facility so they could “see the exact physical conditions and related practice changes that have already been made”.
“I have even tried to make that easier by offering use of the helicopter - the swiftest available form of transport,” he wrote in a letter dated May 21.
However the BIS committee has responded today that it will not accept conditions on Ashley’s attendance and expects him to give evidence on the agreed date on the working conditions at Sports Direct.
“Business leaders regularly give evidence to select committees in Westminster without imposing conditions,” said Iain Wright, chair of the BIS committee. “This is part and parcel of living and operating a business in a parliamentary democracy. It is highly unusual for select committees to have to resort to issuing a summons.”
The committee asked Ashley to give evidence on his firm’s working conditions in January but Ashley failed to commit to attending an evidence session. On March 15, it issued a summons for him to attend on June 7.