Sports Direct’s only female board member has resigned suddenly with immediate effect.

Outside Sports Direct's Shirebook HQ

Outside Sports Direct’s Shirebook HQ

Outside Sports Direct’s Shirebrook HQ

The departure of non-executive director Claire Jenkins comes after a year in which shareholders twice tried to oust chairman Keith Hellawell but were vetoed by majority shareholder owner Mike Ashley.

It also follows claims of poor treatment of employees at the retailer’s Shirebrook warehouse.

Sports Direct has no finance director and last year lost its chief executive Dave Forsey over the Shirebrook scandal, which prompted MPs to investigate retail distribution centres.

Neither Jenkins nor the company gave any reason for her sudden departure, but the Financial Times quoted a friend of Jenkins who said that she had “found it quite a difficult place to be particularly in the last couple [of years]”.

The source added: “She had taken the view that she was better off being an independent voice inside the board, that that was the right thing for shareholders. She came to the conclusion that the balance had tipped.”