Mike Ashley has so far dodged appearing in front of MPs to explain/justify how he runs his empire, but Parliament still has the Newcastle United owner in their sights.
Having seriously wound them up with the disdain he showed when asked to appear before them, the chairman of the Scottish Affairs committee, Labour MP Ian Davidson, has said:
“After the Election a new committee will be formed. They will have five years to secure a meeting.
“He (Mike Ashley) can’t be busy every day for five years.”
Ashley’s stand-in/stooge, Sports Direct Chairman Keith Hellawell, was given a torrid time by the MPs on the Scottish Affairs committee and claimed that Mike Ashley had never refused to appear and allegedly would be quite happy to appear in the future…
Hellawell was forced to admit that 78% were employed/existed on zero hours contracts by Mike Ashley at Sports Direct, with Prime Minister David Cameron admitting this week that he wouldn’t be able to live if employed on similar zero hours contract terms.
Mike Ashley claimed his human rights had been violated by MPs revealing correspondence between them and Ashley’s people, as he fought off attempts to even properly respond to the requests by the committee to appear.
As well as the overwhelming use of zero hours contracts, Hellawell and ultimately his boss Mike Ashley faced accusations of ‘diabolical’ pensions compared to the rest of the FTSE 100.
MPs also accused them of holding a supplier, Diesel, to ransom during negotiations.
Committee Chairman Davidson saying to Hellawell:
“‘We have established that you refused to pay rent in order to strengthen your hand in negotiations and a number of other practices which were reprehensible. We’ve got to assume, not unreasonably, that a company that we’ve already established behaves extremely badly towards its suppliers and the taxpayer is also likely to behave in a less than perfect manner towards staff.’
The MPs said that the company had been speaking to administrators over the fate of USC for almost two months before its collapse, but then workers were given only 15 minutes’ notice of it.
The committee were also angry that taxpayers had been left with a bill for £575,000, while the parent company made £240 million in annual profit.
During his grilling, Conservative MP Simon Reevell suggested that Hellawell had been ‘put up as a sacrifice’ before them.
Great to see that the MPs are determined to make Mike Ashley answerable for how he is treating thousands and thousands of people who can’t carry that fight to Ashley themselves.
I bet the Newcastle United owner will be keeping a careful eye on whether certain MPs are re-elected in the upcoming general election….