• Mike Ashley has agreed to give evidence before MPs on June 7
  • Sports Direct founder said he will appear before MPs provided they visit Sport Direct’s Shirebrook warehouse on the day before the inquiry
  • Ashley liaising with chairman of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Iain Wright

Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has agreed to appear before MPs to give evidence on working conditions at the retailer’s warehouse.

The founder of Sports Direct has agreed to meet with MPs on the condition that they visit the retailer’s Shirebrook warehouse before the inquiry takes place, according to the Daily Telegraph.

MPs first invited Ashley to give evidence in March after a Guardian investigation found workers in the retailer’s warehouse were allegedly effectively working below the minimum wage and were being subjected to extreme levels of searches and surveillance.

Ashley previously dismissed the inquiry as “showboating” and refused to attend, running the risk of being held in contempt of Parliament.

Prior to his conditional acceptance to give evidence on the working conditions of Sports Direct’s warehouses, Ashley liaised with Iain Wright, chairman of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee.

Ashley told Wright last month that he would not attend the inquiry because “public exposure of that kind has the potential in a high-profile case to affect fundamental rights including commercial rights of property, privacy and fair process”.

However, Ashley has now said in his correspondence with Wright that he would be willing to attend the parliamentary inquiry on June 7 provided MPs visited Sports Direct’s Shirebrook warehouse on June 6.

In the correspondence, Ashley said this arrangement would “have the clear benefit of allowing the committee to see the working conditions at Shirebrook first hand. And, in the event of me being unable to answer any questions your Committee may have, making available others in real time who are in a better position to assist you”. 

Meanwhile, Ashley has emerged as the front runner to acquire beleagured chain Austin Reed, Retail Week revealed last week. He is also understood to still be in the running to acquire BHS, but reportedly faces rivalry from bidders Matalan founder John Hargreaves and Edinburgh Woollen Mill owner Philip Day.