Is Sports Direct just 'too big' for one man?

The allegations are appalling. Working conditions at Shirebrook, Sports Direct's main warehouse, are reportedly so unpleasant and the rights of workers so feeble that the ill report for work and the well live in fear of losing their jobs at a moments notice.

The Unite union came armed to the session with tales of women giving birth in the Sports Direct toilets, staff being publicly humiliated over the tannoy system, sexual harassment by managers and a "six strikes and you're out" disciplinary process that considered "long toilet breaks" an offence.

Did these things really happen? Mike Ashley didn't really seem to know but if they did, he said he was as horrified as anyone else.

An internal review of working conditions at Sports Direct has been running since December and Mike Ashley told MPs it has revealed "some unpleasant surprises".

Staff were docked 15 minutes' pay for every minute they were late for work. "That's not fair," agreed Ashley.

Eighty per cent of the people who work in the company's stores are employed on zero hour contracts. "We've got to get a better balance," Ashley insisted, without saying what that balance is.

Mike Ashley also conceded that the number of ambulances being called to the warehouse to treat staff (110 between January 2013 and April 2016) is "excessive".

Mike Ashley admits Sports Direct broke the law - that the queues at security for staff checking in and out were so long that they ended up being paid less than the national minimum wage.

Sports Direct appears to have agreed back-pay for the 200 directly employed permanent workers who lost out as a result.

HMRC are investigating, and the company won't necessarily escape a fine.

Negotiations with recruitment agencies that provide Sports Direct with 3,000 temporary staff are ongoing.

But the most damning admission is that Ashley appears to have little oversight of what was going on at shop-floor level.

At various points Ashley conceded that the business has become "too big".

Ashley insists that people are at the heart of what Sports Direct does. The union argues the business is built on exploitation.