This outlandish case made Mike Ashley look like the good guy

Catherine Neilan
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Sports Direct Founder Faces Commons Select Committee Over Working Conditions
Now you know: Get any drunken offer of £15m in writing before you start work (Source: Getty)

Until recently it seemed impossible to make Mike Ashley look like the good guy.

Yesterday the Sports Direct founder, who commutes by helicopter and throws around wads of £50 notes while his company's workers give birth in the toilets, emerged victorious from a bizarre court case that only seemed worth it only for the anecdotes.

With no small amount of pride, Ashley repeatedly boasted about his drunkenness while the court considered an alleged promise to pay banker Jeffrey Blue £15m if he got the retailer’s share price to £8.

We were regaled with stories of “pints coming like machine guns”, naps during “boring” meetings and vomiting into fireplaces. "In two hours, how many pints do you think I can put down?" he asked the High Court. "Understand, I am a power drinker... I binge drink... I am trying to get drunk."

No wonder he couldn’t remember it was Darth Vader, not Obi-Wan, who was the Star Wars villain he resembled.

Read more: Here's every surprising Sports Direct moment in the last 18 months

It might have made you queasy to read, but there was a serious question at stake. It was Blue’s argument that these lock-ins constituted management meetings. Yesterday Justice Leggatt ruled this demonstrated “the human capacity for wishful thinking”.

Say what you want about Ashley, but in this case sense has prevailed, and it's good news for anyone who has ever vowed to plough their life savings into “socks for hands”* when they were the wrong side of a few pints.

If you weren’t sure before, now you know – when someone drunkenly offers to pay you £15m, get it in writing before you start the job.

*They’re called gloves and they already exist. See also: gloves for feet.

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