Horseracing pundit John McCririck has launched a £3 million age discrimination claim against his former employers, Channel 4.
The 73-year-old claims he was sacked from Channel 4 Racing last October without any explanation because they wanted to hire someone younger.
He is now suing the broadcaster and IMG Sports Media, which took over production of Channel 4’s racing coverage from the start of 2013, for £2.5m in punitive damages.
A further £500,000 in compensation is being sought for loss of future earnings, unfair career damaging, public humiliation, stress and mental anguish.
McCririck claims Channel 4’s decision to drop him was based on his age rather than his ability to do the job.
Speaking outside the central London hearing yesterday, he said: “I am saying I was sacked because I was old, I was 72 at the time. I am so angry.
“This is a far bigger issue that just me. There are people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s who dread that a younger person will come in and take them out of a job – they are in fear of it.
“That is why I am claiming £3m in total, so that no-one will ever be sacked because they are trying to get a younger person. On merit and ability, fine, but not because they are younger.
“It’s because the suits and skirts, they are never answerable to anybody. They make their decisions, they can destroy people’s lives and careers, and they are never made answerable. Now they are going to be answerable, providing we can get over the legal argument.”
Channel 4, IMG Sports Media, executive producer Carl Hicks, CEO David Abraham, Channel 4 sports editor Jamie Aitchison and Channel 4 chief creative Jay Hunt are all listed as respondents to the claim.
The broadcaster denies that McCririck was discriminated against because of his age, and the presenter says Channel 4 is now claiming that he was not an employee, but a freelance.
An employment tribunal judge will hear arguments about whether or not the flamboyant presenter was in fact employed by Channel 4, before deciding if a full tribunal will take place. “I am saying, principally, that Jamie Aitchison, who is the sports editor for Channel 4, he phoned me up in October 2012 and sacked me and said within half an hour, ‘There is going to be a press release’,” said Mr McCririck.
“How can you be sacked by someone who now says they didn’t employ me?”
McCririck, who attended Harrow School, was originally a journalist with the Sporting Life and began his television career on ITV in 1981.
He has also appeared in Celebrity Big Brother and also Celebrity Wife Swap.