Mike Ashley apologises for 'ill-judged' coronavirus response and offers his fleet of lorries to NHS

SPORTS Direct founder Mike Ashley has apologised for ‘ill-judged and poorly timed’ emails to the Government and poor communication with employees and the public in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday, 27th March 2020, 8:26 am
Updated Friday, 27th March 2020, 11:58 am

In an open letter, the majority owner of Frasers Group also said he has offered the company's ‘entire fleet of lorries’ to the NHS to help deliver medical supplies and equipment.

It comes after the businessman faced fierce criticism from MPs after he tried to claim Sports Direct was an essential operator for keeping the nation fit, before performing a U-turn and closing his stores.

Frasers Group - which rebranded from Sports Direct International last year - faced further scorn after its finance chief wrote a letter to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove on Wednesday in an attempt to defend its position.

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In the new letter, Mr Ashley said: ‘Our intentions were only to seek clarity from the Government as to whether we should keep some of our stores open; we would never have acted against their advice.

‘In hindsight, our emails to the Government were ill-judged and poorly timed, when they clearly had much greater pressures than ours to deal with.

‘On top of this, our communications to our employees and the public on this was poor.

‘To reiterate, I am deeply apologetic about the misunderstandings of the last few days. We will learn from this and will try not to make the same mistakes in the future.’

Coronavirus: the facts

What is coronavirus?

Covid-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS