• Mike Ashley-controlled retailer says it did not authorise recording device 
  • Board “disappointed” MPs visited on a day they knew Ashley would not be present
  • Ashley says Sports Direct people have been made a “political football”

Sports Direct has said it did not authorise or have “any knowledge of” the recording device found by MPs during a meeting at the retailer’s headquarters.

MPs from the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) committee visited Sports Direct’s Shirebrook facility yesterday unnannounced on Monday, as part of its pledge to monitor working practices at the business.

However in a private meeting afterwards, MPs claim that a recording device was brought into the room and hidden under a stool.

In a statement today, Sports Direct said: ”The board would like to make it clear that it did not authorise or have any knowledge of the possible recording device.” 

It added: “The board is disappointed that reporting of a possible recording device (the veracity of which has yet to be determined) has overshadowed the truly important issues that this visit should have focused on - the true working conditions and worker satisfaction at Shirebrook.”

Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley allegedly accused the MPs of planting the device themselves during a phone call with BIS committee chairman Iain Wright.

The controversial retailer today said it was also ”disappointed that the MPs chose to visit on a day when they knew Mike Ashley would not be on site”.

Ashley added: “I stand firmly behind the people of Sports Direct, who through no fault of their own have been made a political football by MPs and unions.” 

The controversial billionaire took over as Sports Direct’s chief executive in September after long serving 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.