Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley agrees to meet MPs for first time as he attempts to "set the record straight" over working conditions at Shirebrook

Catherine Neilan
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Ashley has been under pressure to address working conditions at Sports Direct's Shirebrook HQ (Source: Getty)

Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has agreed to meet MPs for the first time, in an attempt to head off ongoing criticism of his company's working practices.

Ashley has invited politicians to the retailer's Shirebrook HQ in Derbyshire to "set the record straight", the Mirror reports.

Shirebrook has been the focus of much ire in recent months, with protesters holding a Dickensian-themed demonstration on the day of Sports Direct's AGM last year, to complain against "Victorian" conditions.

Protestors claimed that Ashley's company operated a "six strikes and your out" policy, with offences including taking too long in the toilet, talking too much and having time off for being sick.

Ashley has already started a campaign to try and right his business' suffering reputation, after its share price started to slip. In December he finally broke his silence on the matter, saying he would personally carry out a review of working practices.

But he has never before met with MPs - making this latest move significant. He is reported to have been in touch with "several MPs", including a representative from the Business, Innovation and Skills committee.

However, Iain Wright, Hartlepool MP and chair of the committee, said he was "still keen for Mr Ashley to come and give evidence".

The retail tycoon dodged a select committee hearing last year - sending Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell instead - for what turned into an embarrassing session in which the former drugs tsar appeared to either know very little about Sports Direct's operations or admit that they were less than upstanding.

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