Mike Ashley
Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct now faces a legal backlashGetty Images

Former staff of clothing brand USC, which is owned by sportswear to football clubs tycoon Mike Ashley, have begun legal action against the then parent company Sports Direct, claiming they were given just 15 minutes consultation before being unceremoniously sacked.

Some 79 former USC staffers as well as 166 agency employees claimed they were given the nosebleed consultations, as opposed to the legal 90-day notice period.

USC, which was owned by Sports Direct at the time, was placed into administration in January, before being purchased by Republic – another firm owned by Ashley.

The Herald has reported that Thompsons Solicitors has agreed to represent the workers on a no win, no fee basis.

The Herald said lawyers estimate compensation could run into the tens of thousands of pounds, but will likely be covered by the taxpayer-funded Insolvency Service. This is because the firm was placed by Ashley into administration.

Labour MP Brian Donohoe for Dundonald, where the plant was based, and Glasgow South MP Ian Davidson, chairman of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, have received complaints from the ex-staff.

"Fifteen minutes consultation, that's all I am worth," stated one of USC's former employees in a complaint.

Donohue is urging the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to call Ashley to explain the events.