Mike Ashley just lost it at Unite in front of his investors at the Sports Direct

Helen Cahill
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Things became tense at the Sports Direct AGM (Source: Getty)

Sports Direct's founder Mike Ashley could not contain his irritation with Unite today at his company's annual meeting, ranting at the union's representatives in front of his investors.

Steve Turner, Unite's assistant general secretary, stood up at the AGM to criticise the changes Ashley has made to improve conditions for workers on zero-hours contracts, saying that the offer of 12 hours' guaranteed work was not good enough.

This was too much for Ashley, who shouted at Turner: “What do you think I should start with, 100 [hours] and get it wrong?

“It is probably your fault we’re in this mess! All the good work is getting undone. It didn’t take long, did it?”

Ashley seemed upset that he was being criticised, having worked to set up a constructive dialogue with the union since the details of dire working practices at the company emerged.

He told Turner: "Don’t pull me down while I’m trying. Please don't do the whole showboating thing."

Until the moment that Ashley lost his temper, the meeting had been tense, but civil. Investors cringed as the situation turned sour.

Sports Direct has made its AGM public today in a bid to show it has been trying to fix the problems highlighted in the inquiry into its working conditions undertaken by the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee.

On the outburst, chairman Keith Hellawell said: "We all feel strongly about what's gone on... and sometimes I have an outburst, and other people have an outburst.

"If you get some headlines out of it, you will get some headlines out of it."

One investor clapped as Hellawell defended Ashley.

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