Mike Ashley defends flying to work by HELICOPTER as Sports Direct orders probe into 'Victorian' conditions

Mike Ashley has defended flying to work by HELICOPTER - just as his firm launches an independent probe into working conditions. Sports Direct announced today a 360-degree review of working practices and corporate governance will be led by a third party instead of i

ts lawyers, RPC. The clothes giant said it made the change after shareholders raised concerns about warehouse conditions MPs branded Victorian. Minutes later, founder and self-confessed PR nightmare Mr Ashley topped up the statement by chatting about his own travel habits. Read MoreRelated ArticlesMike Ashley turns up to Sports Direct 2020第70期码报 meeting about zero-hour contracts - with MASSIVE wad of 50 notes He claimed using a helicopter was real and justified despite the fact some workers are on the minimum wage. The millionaire Newcastle FC owner also insisted others benefited in the firm, including a cleaning lady who was paid an 80,000 bonus. He told BBC Breakfast: I do fly to work by helicopter, its a reality. So when people say Oh be real, thats how I travel. Mike Ashley said there was no contradiction between flying and paying minimum wage (Image: BBC) Sports Direct want to do a load more international business. You say ok guys, I dont get paid a salary, but I do like to go by plane and I do like to go by private plane because it saves a lot of time and its very efficient. So at Sports Direct Ill have a plane come in. And people will say how can you have a plane when your workers are on minimum wage? I said but I dont set the minimum wage. If the minimum wage would be the living wage, then the Government who set the rules should set it at the living wage. Thats as I look at it. Sports Direct will hand its probe into working practices to a third party (Image: Getty) Mr Ashley put the poor practices discovered at the business down to a rotten apple in the barrel and said there are a lot of good things about the firm. He said: I can tell you in the last five years Sports Direct will have paid out over 200million in bonuses. So I can tell you the cleaning lady got an 80,000 bonus on top of her normal pay. Nobody in the UK

has done that. What weve got to do is focus on getting the bits weve got wrong, to the extreme highs of the bits weve got right. And paying out that kind of money doesnt mean youre allowed to get these bits wrong, where clearly Ive taken my eye off the ball. Ive said sorry, Ive said Im going to fix it, and I will. Mr Ashley admitted he was a PR nightmare after emptying a wad of 50 notes (Image: PA) Describing himself as a bit of a PR nightmare, he referred to the moment he pulled out a wad of 50 notes during a security check at his firms Shirebrook warehouse. He said: The one thi

ng people didnt say to me was Mike, have you checked how much money youve got in your pocket? And of co

urse nobody thought to ask me whether or not I had genuinely been to the casino a few days earlier. Sports Direct originally announced there would be a probe by its own lawyers into working practices on September 6. Its board switched to a third party today after discussions with the influential Investor Forum, whose combined assets are worth more than 14trillion. MP Iain Wright warned evidence had pointed to conditions like a Victorian workhouse Independent shareholders also rebelled at the retailers AGM, with 53% opposing the re-election of chairman Keith Hellawell. Sports Direct previously announced it would end zero-hour contracts for warehouse staff after Iain Wright, chairman of the business select committee, said: The evidence we heard points to a business whose working practices are closer to that of a Victorian workhouse than that of a modern, reputable High Street retailer. Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said today: At last Mike Ashley and his board have grasped that they need to take some very serious steps to restore shareholder, consumer and worker confidence in their employment practices. “An independent review is a vital component of this company truly getting to grips with its many and serious employment problems. “We are pleased that the company has now seen sense. Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s shadow business secretary, said the review was a step in the right direction towards ridding the company of its exploitative practices once and for all.