Job applicant, 69, rejected as 'too old' by Age Concern

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The Independent Online

Age Concern apologised yesterday after admitting it had rejected a job applicant because he was too old.

Hector McDonald, 69, applied for the post of the charity's parliamentary officer, believing his experience as a copywriter, political consultant and as a former conservative councillor and member of Greater London Council would give him a good chance. "I know my way around the rabbit warren called the Houses of Parliament," he said.

But Age Concern did not consider his application. A spokesman said yesterday: "Our current policy is for staff to retire when they reach 70, which is why this application was excluded.

"We are extremely sorry to hear that Mr McDonald feels he has been the victim of age discrimination. We are investigating all the circumstances around the handling of his opportunity to join us."

Mr McDonald was incredulous that Age Concern could ignore his experience because of his age. "My credentials were impeccable, being a copywriter with existing good connections in both main parties. I was involved with [political] manifesto writing at one time. I have dealt with cabinet and shadow cabinet ministers for 25 years," he told IDF50, an internet magazine.

The charity was keen to stress yesterday it had been a pioneer of flexible retirement. Employees can choose to retire at any time up to 65, after which their contracts can be extended up to the age of 70 subject to "performance reviews".

The Government was criticised by Age Concern last summer when it did not introduce legislation to combat ageism by employers, instead producing a voluntary code. A spokesman for Age Concern said at the time: "We believe that only comprehensive equal opportunities legislation will enable the victims to challenge employers effectively."

Mr McDonald is now doing voluntary work as a press officer with the Rural Life Centre, a museum in Tilford, Surrey.