Sports Direct denies secret camera filming MPs

British retailer Sports Direct (LON:SPD) was forced to defend itself on Tuesday after MPs who made an unannounced visit complained of an attempt made to spy on them.

Member of Parliament Anna Turley, who visited the Shirebrook warehouse on Monday, said a woman who had brought them a tray of sandwiches had placed a camera and recording device on the floor underneath.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Ms Turley said. “I watched her put the device on the floor and when she left I said: ‘Bloody hell guys, they are trying to record us.’ It’s not James Bond, more Austin Powers.”

Turley tweeted a picture which showed the tray of sandwiches placed on a stool in a room where the lawmakers had sat at the end of their tour, and the camera on the floor under the stool.

“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 the visit should have focused on – the true working conditions and worker satisfaction at Shirebrook,” the company said in a statement.

Sports Direct’s billionaire founder Mike Ashley, who was rebuked by lawmakers over working practices at his business in July, has responded to the incident:

“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,” he said in a statement.

Sports Direct, which has around 450 retail outlets, came under fire after investigations uncovered working practices at the warehouse, which MPs described as being akin to a Victorian workhouse.

Turley said conditions at the Shirebrook warehouse were dingy and chaotic at the unannounced visit but that the MPs had not expected things to be perfect because Mike Ashley had admitted things needed to improve.