Derby

MPs reject Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley's helicopter offer

Mike Ashley Image copyright PA
Image caption Sports Direct was founded by billionaire Mike Ashley, who also owns Newcastle United

MPs have rejected an offer from the boss of Sports Direct to visit the firm's headquarters by helicopter.

Billionaire Mike Ashley has been ordered to appear before a Commons committee to give evidence about working practices.

Mr Ashley said he would meet MPs if they travelled to the firm's base in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, and offered to transport them in his own aircraft.

The group rejected this and said it expected him to appear on 7 June.

A spokesman for Sports Direct said the committee is being "unfair" and Mr Ashley will seek legal advice.

Iain Wright MP, chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee said: "Business leaders regularly give evidence to select committees in Westminster without imposing conditions.

"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."

Image caption Mr Ashley said he would fly the committee to the Sports Direct base in Shirebrook, Derbyshire

The businessman has refused to attend the meetings in the past and at one stage said the MPs involved were "a joke".

He had been warned he could be in contempt of Parliament if he continued to refuse to appear at Westminster.

Newcastle United owner Mr Ashley has yet to comment on the committee's refusal.

Ashley was asked to attend the meeting on the back of a BBC investigation into working practices at Sports Direct's warehouse, based in Shirebrook.

A spokesman for Sports Direct said: "We are disappointed that members of the committee have chosen not to visit Shirebrook in order to see working conditions with their own eyes, as we continue to believe that this is obviously the best way forward.

"The committee are well aware that Mike Ashley's proposal to attend Westminster on 7 June was made on the understanding that MPs would visit Shirebrook on any day in advance of 6 June.

"The committee are clearly being unfair, Mike will therefore now seek legal advice with regard to his position in relation to 7 June."

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