Mike Ashley sidesteps MP grilling over USC redundancies

 
Catherine Neilan
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Mike Ashley: He could still be called in to face MPs (Source: Getty)

Mike Ashley is sidestepping a meeting with Scottish MPs who want to grill him over the handling of USC's administration and his retail empire's use of zero-hour contracts.

The Scottish Affairs Committee has called Ashley and other executives to appear before them as part of an investigation into how the high street chain collapsed, and was subsequently bought out by Ashley's other chain Republic.
As a knock-on effect, around 200 staff at USC's Ayrshire warehouse lost their jobs amid claims they were given just 15 minutes' warning.
But the self-made tycoon – who is famously publicity-shy - has told the committee it would be more appropriate for chief executive Dave Forsey to attend.
Committee chair Ian Davidson MP told the Guardian he was satisfied that the company had agreed to put a senior executive in front of the committee, but warned Ashley could still be called in if questions went unanswered.
“The hearing will be at the end of this month with the chief executive. We are still very concerned about the situation and want to conduct a thorough investigation,” he told the paper.
“If we are not satisfied with the answers we get, then the committee will be able to reconvene after the election and request to meet Mike Ashley.”
The committee also wants to tackle Sports Direct’s use of zero-hours contracts following a previous investigation. As many as 90 per cent of the retailer’s 23,000 staff are employed under the controversial terms, which do not guarantee work. Davidson has invited staff to come forward to discuss the impact of the contracts.
Yesterday Ashley was fined £7,500 – around 0.00002 per cent of his estimated wealth – by the Scottish FA for holding a dual interest in Glasgow Rangers.

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