Politicians have refused an offer from Mike Ashley, the billionaire founder and majority shareholder of Sports Direct, to visit one of his warehouses in return for answering their questions.
Ashley, who has been under pressure to appear before MPs for more than two months, finally agreed to speak to members of the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee on June 7th.
But he said he will only do so if members of the Committee come to see Sports Direct’s warehouse facility in Shirebrook, Derbyshire the day before.
Lawmakers dismissed the offer.
Peter Kyle, a Labour member of the committee, told the Financial Times: “This is not a deal, it is a process, [which] starts with him getting his backside on a chair in a room with elected members of parliament and let’s take it from there.
“To do anything other than that is not bravado, it is just cowardice,” the FT quotes Kyle as saying.
Politicians have been chasing Ashley for months, and he has previously refused to speak to them, calling them a “joke” in an interview with Sky News in March.
“We can confirm that Mike Ashley has agreed to attend Westminster – provided that the committee members visit the Shirebrook premises in advance to see employment conditions and practices with their own eyes,” a Sports Direct statement emailed to Business Insider on Tuesday said.
Sports Direct has faced a series of scandals in the past couple of years, but Ashley’s BIS Select Committee appearance will most likely concern allegations made in late 2015, including that the company is effectively paying workers less than minimum wage, and that some workers were so scared to take sick leave that they called ambulances to the office.
Since those allegations were first made in The Guardian newspaper, Sports Direct has committed to paying at least minimum wage to all staff, costing the company £10 million ($14.5 million).
The allegations have also destroyed Sports Direct stock over the last year, which led to it being thrown out of the FTSE 100:
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