Sports Direct shareholders urge fair play as Mike Ashley’s games go on –

Sports Direct’s chairman Keith Hellawell shielded himself from reporters with his brown, battered briefcase and fled the company’s annual meeting on Thursday. The 75-year-old who once used to make the most of his intimidating broad-shouldered stature seemed to have shrunk from the stress of having his stewardship of the sportswear giant come under fire for the third time in as many years.

Despite once boasting of making a career out of controversy, Hellawell has been wounded by a sustained investor campaign against him which has seen him branded as Mike Ashley’s poodle.It didn’t used to be like this for the man once known as the “black knight”, a moniker he was given due to his penchant for dressing entirely in black and driving a black Porsche during his time as a chief constable. 

Hellawell’s autobiography The Outsider  recalls his troubled childhood as an abused, squint-eyed boy who worked his way up through establishment ranks to make headlines by becoming the country’s youngest police chief, pushing for the legalisation of brothels and drawing confessions out of the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe. His time as Tony Blair’s drug tsar ended in a row over the weakening of marijuana’s classification. However, while he has spent the past 40 years in public life, his seven years at Sports Direct have been some of his most uncomfortable.


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