Entertainment & Arts

John McCririck to sue over 'ageist' Channel 4 sacking

John McCririck
Image caption McCririck had been a fixture on Channel 4's racing coverage for almost 30 years

Racing pundit John McCririck has said he is to take legal action against Channel 4, accusing the broadcaster of dropping him because of his age.

The 72-year-old claims he was sacked "without any consultation" and is seeking £3 million for loss of future earnings, "stress and mental anguish".

McCririck was let go last year after Channel 4 unveiled its new presenting team, headed by Clare Balding.

The station said it would be "vigorously defending this claim".

"We are grateful to John McCririck for his contribution towards the success of Channel 4 Racing over many years," Channel 4 said in a statement.

"However we reject the suggestion that discrimination on the basis of age played any part in the decision not to renew his freelance contract."

The flamboyant broadcaster had covered racetrack betting for 31 years, 29 of them for Channel 4.

'Unjustly axed'

"Channel 4 and production company IMG Sports Media were yesterday each served a letter before action for age discrimination," McCririck said in a statement.

"I believe this landmark action will be a beacon to motivate numerous workers still productive as ever, but now living in dread of being unjustly axed."

McCririck said he would drop the action if he is "fully" reinstated, receives an apology and has all his costs met.

IMG Sports Media took over production of Channel 4 racing on 1 January, previously contracted to independent company Highflyer.

In his statement, McCririck admitted the process "won't be pleasant".

"The vitriol will hurt [and] some is bound to stick," he said.

"But that is the inevitable price when asserting what is right against entrenched powerful interests."

Best known for his gold jewellery, sideburns and omnipresent deerstalker, McCririck appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2005 and Ultimate Big Brother five years later.

The task of providing trackside betting odds will now go to his former sidekick Tanya Stevenson, whom he had often referred to on air as "the female".

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites