Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has had a change of mind and now says he will appear before the Business Innovation and Skills committee on Tuesday, in an attempt to clear the “good name” of Sports Direct.
Ashley was summoned by the committee in March over allegations that his company Sports Direct do not pay staff the minimum wage and he was asked to explain the situation.
Mike Ashley Sports Direct owner
Initially Ashley had dismissed the request as only leading to a media circus and said he would challenge the summons to appear before the committee.
But he has since had a change of heart and has sent a letter to the committee Chairman Iain Wright saying he would appear to answer the allegations of poor working practices:
“I can assure you that nothing is further from the truth,” I believe my repeated invitations for you to attend Shirebrook are a clear demonstration that in fact we have nothing to hide. I was merely seeking to avoid an unnecessary media circus.”
“However, after much reflection over the last 48 hours, I have concluded that a lengthy legal battle would be of no benefit to either of us.”
“It would also no doubt lead to further unwarranted accusations that I am being secretive, whereas in fact I have been open and honest at every stage of this process.
“I have therefore reconsidered my position and I am writing to confirm that I will now be attending Parliament on Tuesday in order to defend the good name of Sports Direct on behalf of all of the great people who work here.”
Mr Wright has welcomed the decision by Ashley to appear:
“Mr Ashley announced in December he would personally oversee a review of working practices at the Shirebrook warehouse in response to serious allegations made and we look forward to Mr Ashley answering our questions, including in response to these allegations and the progress of his review.”
“As a committee, we want to get a sense of the genuine and balanced picture at Sports Direct and establish whether there are issues for the wider economy which need further examination, such as the status and rights of agency workers.”
This has been really bad publicity for Mike Ashley’s company and it seems he is now willing to meet with the Committee and willing to answer the allegations.
We’ll just have to see how the meeting goes tomorrow.