Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Ashley Wants a Home and Away Clash with MPs - and He'll Even Throw in a Ride on His Helicopter; Newcastle Owner Says He Will Visit Mps - If They Visit His Firm

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Ashley Wants a Home and Away Clash with MPs - and He'll Even Throw in a Ride on His Helicopter; Newcastle Owner Says He Will Visit Mps - If They Visit His Firm

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN WALKER Political Editor jon.walker@trinitymirror.com @jonwalker121

NEWCASTLE United owner Mike Ashley has at last agreed to appear before a Committee of MPs investigating how staff are treated at his Sports Direct retail chain.

But Mr Ashley says he'll only speak to them at Westminster on condition that they also agree to visit Sports Direct's warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, to meet employees and see the working conditions for themselves.

He's even offered to fly them in on his helicopter. The Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, chaired by Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, will consider his proposal next week.

But it may not be the end of the longrunning battle between Mr Ashley and MPs. So how did it come to this? | |Why are MPs investigating Mr Ashley? It began when a national newspaper sent undercover reporters to work at Sports Direct's warehouse, and reported that some workers were paid less than the minimum wage because they were required to go through "rigorous" compulsory searches outside their paid working hours.

Mr Ashley, the majority shareholder in Sports Direct, launched a personal investigation into the claims. Mr Wright announced that the Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee wanted to question him. This would mean Mr Ashley travelling to Westminster to answer questions from MPs in the Commons.

| |What do MPs want to know? Strictly speaking, the Commons committee scrutinises the work of the Government - not private companies.

But that can include asking whether laws designed to protect workers go far enough, and whether they are being enforced. This is why the Committee wants to speak to Mr Ashley.

Separately, Mr Wright has told the House of Commons: "I have received correspondence from workers at Sports Direct, who have told me of practices such as employees being made to clock out but having to continue to work so that wages were not over budget; of staff kept for an hour after their scheduled finish time without pay to tidy shops; and of workers finishing work at 5am and being required back at work two hours later. …

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