Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has been urged to explain an alleged bid by the company to spy on MPs with a secret camera.
MP Iain Wright, chairman of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee, has written to Ashley voicing his “anger” and “disappointment” over the incident.
The MP claims he and committee members found a recording device under stool following an unannounced visit to Sports Direct’s headquarters on Monday.
The unannounced visit came off the back of an offer by Ashley for MPs to visit its Shirebrook base to see for themselves how the company operated.
In his letter, Wright said: “I am asking you for an explanation of how and why the camera came to be placed in the room, who authorised its placing and what steps you have taken as a result.
He added: “It is staggering to think that nobody thought to think of the long-term damage such an act, amateurishly carried out, could inflict upon your company.”
Sports Direct issued a statement yesterday saying its board did not authorise or have “any knowledge of” the recording device.
However Wright branded the statement “wholly unsatisfactory”.
The MP argued that “the covert recording” of MPs “damages Sports Direct’s reputation and it damages the ability of the committee to have faith or confidence in what they told that day”.
Wright’s committee was scathing in its criticism of Sports Direct in a report released in the summer looking at the retailer’s working practices and conditions at its Shirebrook headquarters.
The MP claimed yesterday that Ashley had accused the MPs of planting the device themselves.
“I will assume your initial suggestion to me during our telephone conversation that the device was planted by a committee member was a spur of the moment misjudgement rather than what would be a very serious allegation,” he added in his letter today.
Wright concluded: “I remain prepared to offer support to your efforts to reform your business in a way that treats all workers fairly and with respect … However, you do need to demonstrate a degree of trust, openness and constructive engagement that I hoped to establish but was so unfortunately lacking on our visit to Shirebrook.”
Ashley took over as Sports Direct’s chief executive in September after long serving boss Dave Forsey quit.
It followed an “open day” for investors and the media in an effort to restore the retailer’s image following a wave of negative publicity over its working practices.