John McCririck, the 72 year old celebrated racing pundit who has been sacked without any explanation has launched legal action against Channel 4, seeking £3m in age-discrimination damages for public humiliation that he claims he suffered after being ditched by the channel.
Mr McCririck was one of many long standing presenters who have been dropped after the channel had won exclusive rights to terrestrial coverage of racing from 1 January. The new team has been constituted with a tinge of youth with Clare Balding heading the team.
Now McCririck has announced that it would be a ‘watershed’ legal proceedings against Channel 4 and their new production company IMG Sports Media saying he was a victim of age prejudice.
In a statement released yesterday, he said “After 29 years with Channel 4 Racing, on a rolling annual contract, he had been sacked without any consultation or convincing explanation. He was 72 and for the loss of future earnings; unfair dismissal, career-damaging, public humiliation; stress; and mental anguish, he would be seeking £500,000.
He added that ageism was illegal and tens and thousands of employees feared it as a scourge of the society.
This litigation should prove to be a turning point. There was no upper limit to the amount of damages employment tribunals could award under the Equality Act 2010.
And as further exemplary, damages he was seeking £2.5m part of which he said would be donated to charitable organisations helping to prevent negative prejudice in the workplace.
McCririck, an Old Harrovian and failed bookmaker, was angered in October when he was advised that he had not made the cut for the expanded Channel 4 portfolio, which would also include the Grand National and Royal Ascot.
Pronouncing himself “the face of racing”, alongside Frankie Dettori and now Balding, he stressed that racing was a sport for “all ages and classes of society”, and noted that only one of the 13 names on the roster announced that day was aged over 50.
He said that some may be uncomfortable about the idea that as a man with prehistoric attitude towards women should seem to appoint himself a guardian against discrimination.
The consequences of McCririck’s legal action promise to be colourful, with Channel 4 quick to reject his claims.
A spokeswoman for the channel said they were grateful to John McCririck for his contribution towards the success of Channel 4 Racing over many years but they were rejecting the suggestion that he was discriminated on the basis of age in not renewing his freelance contract.
She said the channel was going to vigorously defend the claim.