MPs have slammed Boohoo – which has its main distribution centre in Burnley – over alleged illegal practices in its supply chain and refusing to engage with trade unions.

On Thursday, members of the Environmental Audit Committee expressed outrage at the firm for denying any knowledge of its suppliers breaking the law, despite issues being raised over several years.

In a letter, the Committee’s chair condemned the company for so-far refusing to join the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) – an independent body that oversees ethics and conditions in supply chain businesses such as factories and warehouses - and called it "shameful" that the company has only decided to take action against unethical suppliers recently.

Chairman Philip Dunne MP wrote: “It is incredible that over a year since the Committee highlighted illegal working practices in its supply chain, Boohoo has publicly denied any knowledge of what has been happening for years.

“Last year Boohoo told us that it was going to join the ETI. We note it has not done so. It is shameful that it took a pandemic and the ensuing outrage about working practices in their supply chain for Boohoo finally to be taken to task for turning a blind eye.

“I have today asked a number of questions to discover what the company is doing to protect its workers and to ask whether any environmental standards have been adopted to lessen the impact of fast fashion on our environment.”

Earlier in July, the company was embroiled in scandal over alleged illegal working conditions at a Boohoo supplier in Leicester, whose goods would have been sent to the Burnley distribution centre.

Workers inside the supplier were being paid £3.50 an hour and it is alleged the it broke coronavirus social distancing rules.

Trade union Usdaw – who have tried to get recognition with the company for years – said it welcomed the intervention from the Committee and that Boohoo "must have known" that goods from unethical suppliers were making its way into the supply chain.

The union’s divisional officer for the North West, Mike Aylward, said: “I’ve made it clear to the Committee that there’s been no recognition, no engagement and clearly the company don’t want to interact with Usdaw.

“We believe the employees feel somewhat intimidated by their stance in this regard.

“I think the company haven’t taken on the recommendations of the Committee [to engage with the trade unions and join the ETI] and this has now shone a light on the Burnley and Manchester sites.”

A Boohoo spokesperson said the company had acknowledged the letter from the Committee and will respond "in due course".