Newcastle owner Mike Ashley refuses to face MPs despite formal summons
It relates to staff working conditions at his Sports Direct firm16:03 Monday 21 March 2016, 16:03 21 Mar 2016
Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has refused to face MPs in Parliament over staff working conditions despite a formal summons.
The Commons Business, Innovation and Skills committee wants to quiz Ashley over the treatment of workers at the sportswear giant and have said he could be in contempt of Parliament if he fails to attend.
However, he has told Sky News he intends to challenge the formal order to appear before MPs which he slammed as an "abuse of the Parliamentary process".
Ashley, who also owns Newcastle United football club, was last week ordered to face the cross-party panel of MPs on 7 June.
Committee chair Iain Wright turned down an offer for the MPs to meet Mr Ashley at the company's centre in Shirebrook, Derbyshire.
Ashley said on Monday that Sports Direct had "nothing to hide" and he was "not willing to stand idle while this company is subjected to public vilification".
"Come here and see it for yourself. You will have to apologise once you've been here," he said.
Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley outside the Sports Direct headquarters in Shirebrook, Derbyshire. Picture by: Joe Giddens / PA Wire/Press Association Images
Referring to the summons by MPs, he went on: "The current intention is not to go, because they ought to come here and see it for themselves.
"They would make a lot more informed decision if they were able to see it for themselves and then I don't think they would actually need to want to see me and carry on the media circus.
"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."
It is thought no one has been charged with contempt of Parliament for more than 50 years.
Sports Direct has been the subject of sustained criticism over the use of controversial "zero hours" contracts.
Today the firm announced all staff and agency workers were being paid the national minimum wage "at a cost of around £10m", and that it would pay over 25s at least £7.40 an hour - the national living wage plus 20p - as pledged by Ashley in December.
It added there were currently no workers on "zero hours" contracts at its Derbyshire warehouse - but said such agreements were in place at its stores.
Last December, it defended the way it treats its workforce after a Guardian investigation into working conditions among its warehouse staff.
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