And the lawyers are off... McCririck wants £3m damages from Channel 4

Racing pundit, 72, starts legal proceedings after being 'sacked without any explanation'

John McCririck, the celebrated racing pundit, is seeking £3m in age-discrimination damages to cover the "public humiliation" he suffered after being ditched by Channel 4.

McCririck, 72, was one of several long-standing presenters dropped after the channel won exclusive rights to terrestrial coverage of racing from 1 January. The new team, headed by Clare Balding, has a conspicuous accent on youth.

Now the septuagenarian, known to viewers for his eccentric wardrobe and coiffure, has announced "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 today, he said: "After 29 years with Channel 4 Racing, on a rolling annual contract, I have been sacked without any consultation or cogent explanation. I am 72. For loss of future earnings; unfair, career-damaging, public humiliation; stress; and mental anguish, I will be seeking £500,000.

"Ageism is illegal. For tens of thousands of employees it has become the feared scourge of our society. This litigation should prove to be a watershed. There's no upper limit to the amount of damages employment tribunals can award under the Equality Act 2010. I am seeking a further exemplary, punitive £2.5m, part of which will be donated to charitable organisations helping to prevent negative prejudice in the workplace."

McCririck, an Old Harrovian and failed bookmaker, was incensed in October when advised that he had not made the cut for the expanded Channel 4 portfolio, which will now 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.

Some may be uncomfortable with the notion that a man whose attitude to women can be so overtly antediluvian should now seem to appoint himself a guardian against discrimination. But McCririck's provocative style has always seemed calculated, affording him a niche in celebrity culture. He transcended the world of betting to make lucrative appearances on Celebrity Big Brother and Wife Swap.

The IMG makeover did shed a number of men in, or past, middle age. Like McCririck, the 62-year-old Derek Thompson tended to divide opinion but had an undeniably popular touch; while few on the new team can so far aspire to Alastair Down's seasoned blend of intelligence and levity. Another to go was Mike Cattermole, no less smooth for the greying of his hair.

The consequences of McCririck's legal action promise to be colourful, with Channel 4 quick to reject his claims.

"We are grateful to John McCririck for his contribution towards the success of Channel 4 Racing over many years," said a spokeswoman for the broadcaster. "However, we reject the suggestion that discrimination on the basis of age played any part in the decision not to renew his freelance contract and we will be vigorously defending this claim."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea