U.K. retail tycoon Mike Ashley has admitted to British politicians that workers at his company's warehouse are paid less than the country's minimum wage.
The founder of sportswear chain Sports Direct and owner of Newcastle City soccer team, sat down in front of the U.K. Parliament's Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee to answer allegations that lengthy and unpaid security searches of staff had pushed earnings below a legal level.
Ashley had initially refused to appear before the committee, but reversed his decision, stating in a letter to Iain Wright, chair of the business select committee that he "had nothing to hide".
An undercover report by The Guardian in December claimed workers each day had to roll up their trouser legs and show the top of their underwear to prove they weren't stealing.
When quizzed today, Ashley admitted that due to lengthy security searches staffs were in effect receiving less than minimum wage.
"On that specific point, for that specific day, yes", he told the committee.
When asked if staff were now getting paid for the searches, Ashley said no but that staff were no longer being held up at the end of the day.
Ashley said he believed workers were no longer being fined for being a minute late, but he was 'terrified' that he may have got claim wrong.