JD Sports have begun an investigation into who was behind the filming of a meeting between the company’s chair Peter Cowgill and Footasylum boss Barry Bown at a car park in July.

The retailer was forced to respond after footage emerged of Cowgill and Bown meeting in a car park in Bury, Greater Manchester, which was first published over the weekend by The Sunday Times

JD Sports has rejected any claims that the meeting between Cowgill and Bown in July was in “any way suspicious or illegitimate”, adding in a statement that the meeting had already been disclosed to the CMA.

JD will now work on discovering who is behind the surveillance footage of Cowgill, with a spokesperson for the company telling Retail Week: “It is not clear where this surveillance footage came from or who is responsible for the recording. If this is part of a sustained campaign of covert surveillance, we think that would be oppressive and unacceptable.

“There are serious questions as to whether this is a breach of data protection law, a misuse of private information or even harassment. Our investigation is in its formative stages and remains ongoing. The appropriate actions will be taken in due course.”

It is understood that the sports retailer would consider going to the police or taking civil action against those behind the surveillance footage, although no decision on which route JD could take will be made before the company learns more about how the filming of the meeting occurred.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) ruled last week that the takeover could lead to “a substantial reduction in competition and a worse deal for Footasylum’s customers”.

The CMA, whose initial verdict to block the merger last year was quashed by a Competition Appeal Tribunal, stated that JD Sports was the closest alternative for Footasylum shoppers. 

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