An Adidas factory at the centre of allegations over 'Dickensian' conditions has offered to open its door to foreign journalists.

And the German sportswear giant has hit back saying Adidas is considered a leading force on social and environmental issues and is part of a prestigious international business monitoring index.

The move follows a controversial hearing organised by a British MEP in which an Indonesian organisation alleged that workers toiled in Dickensian conditions which it said breached the company's own code of conduct.

But Jan Runau, head of Adidas-Salomon corporate and global PR, said the allegations were untrue and Adidas always checked its suppliers carefully and had set up a special social and environmental department.

He said he had received an e-mail from the factory, Tuntex in Jakarta, where 1,700 workers, mostly women, produce jackets and socks for Adidas, saying it was happy to invite journalists to see the conditions for themselves.

He said: "We have nothing to hide. The allegations are not true. We pay above the minimum wage and we treat social and environmental issues very seriously."

Mr Runau added: "Adidas-Salomon AG was selected to join the Dow Jones Sustainability Group Index, the DJSGI, the world's first global sustainability index tracking the performance of the leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide.

"In the Annual Review 2000 of the DJSGI, Dow Jones analysed the social, environmental, and financial performance of our company and concluded that we are an industry leader on sustainability issues.

"In particular, Dow Jones recognised that we have made significant progress in improving the social and environmental conditions in the factories that supply our products.

"This has been promoted by the company's international monitoring team which works with suppliers to ensure they are complying with the company code of conduct, the Standards of Engagement.

"In addition, Adidas-Salomon has taken an industry lead by establishing an externally certified environmental management system in its own production facilities in Germany."

By Deborah Bowyer