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Mike Ashley has pocketed millions from treating people like battery hens | Aditya Chakrabortty

‘Businessmen’ such as the billionaire Sports Direct owner receive deferential treatment from our politicians despite their barbarous treatment of staff – this must be stopped

If we learned one thing from Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley today, it is that he’s not Santa Claus. He enjoyed repeating this message to MPs. Instead, he’s a hardworking billionaire who just can’t keep on top of everything in his company.

Employees on wages that were effectively illegally low? True enough. Temp workers offered permanent jobs in return for sexual favours? No worse than what happens at Sainsbury’s. Docking pay for anyone turning up a minute late? If it happened to one of Ashley’s kids he wouldn’t be too impressed.

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