with contributions from Poppy Grant
 on January 13, 2009

LONDON — Primark, the U.K.-based discount clothing chain owned by Associated British Foods, said Monday it would investigate claims made by the BBC and London’s Observer newspaper that working practices at one of its U.K. suppliers are illegal and unethical.

A report that appeared Monday on the BBC’s Web site alleged that an investigation by an undercover reporter found that one of Primark’s U.K. suppliers, TNS Knitwear in Manchester, along with one of its subcontractors, employed illegal immigrants and paid them below the U.K.’s minimum wage. The full report was due to appear on the BBC’s “News at Ten” show Monday night, while some of the allegations also appeared in the Observer on Sunday. Videos on the BBC’s Web site apparently showed TNS’ owner telling the BBC reporter she would be paid less than the minimum wage of 5.73 pounds, or $8.49 at current exchange, an hour, and another showed an employee saying he worked in the U.K. illegally.

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