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Newcastle owner willing to talk over Sports Direct row

Sports Direct boss and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has said he will now go before MPs to defend the firm’s “good name”.

This comes after Ashley announced he had no intention to appear before the business, innovation and skills select committee (BIS) on Tuesday to answer their questions on working conditions.

In a letter, Mr Ashley stated that he had only refused in order to “to avoid a media circus”.

Committee chairman Iain Wright said he looked forward to Mr Ashley responding to the “serious allegations”.

Sports Direct has been criticised for working conditions at the warehouse, including employing staff on zero-hour contracts.

Mike Ashley had been refusing to appear in front of the committee for over a year, although he changed his mind last month and said he would be willing to answer questions if MPs visited the firm’s Shirebrook warehouse in Derbyshire first.

However, last week he changed his position again, stating he would not attend due to the absence of his lawyer, Richard Gordon QC.

In a letter to Iain Wright, chairman of the BIS committee, Mr Ashley has stated that he takes issue with the MP’s suggestion which came last week. The suggestion was that he had “something to hide”.

Ashley’s response to this was: “I can assure you that nothing is further from the truth.”

If Ashley is charged with unfair treatment of workers, it could have a serious affect on the budget he’s able to give Rafa Benitez ahead of the new Championship season.

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