Flamboyant racing pundit John McCririck was sacked by Channel 4 because his “pantomime persona” is “unpalatable” to a wide audience, an employment tribunal ruled.
Dismissing the 73-year-old’s age discrimination claims, a London Employment Tribunal panel said McCririck could be seen by some as “arrogant and confrontational”.
McCririck said he was dumped from his role on Channel 4 Racing by “anonymous suits and skirts” as part of a drive to hire younger faces.
The pundit took his former employer and TV production company IMG Media Limited to the tribunal, alleging his sacking last year was motivated by age discrimination. Both firms denied discrimination in the £3m (€3.5m) case.
In its judgment, the panel said: “All the evidence is that Mr McCririck’s pantomime persona, as demonstrated on the celebrity television appearances, and his persona when appearing on Channel 4 Racing, together with his self-described bigoted and male chauvinist views, were clearly unpalatable to a wider potential audience.
“The tribunal is satisfied that the respondent had the legitimate aim of attracting a wider audience to horseracing.
“Mr McCririck was dismissed because of his persona emanating from his appearances from celebrity television shows, and the associated press articles resulting from them, together with his appearances as a broadcaster on Channel 4 Racing where, as he accepted, his style of dress, attitudes, opinions, and tic tac gestures were not in keeping with the new aims, and his opinions seen as arrogant and confrontational.”
McCririck said last night: “This is an historic setback for all employees in their 30s to their 70s.
“After such a landmark judicial verdict, my failed legal action ensures that anonymous suits and skirts, who control the media, numerous other businesses, and the public sector, will now enjoy complete freedom to replace older employees whatever their unimpaired ability and merit.
McCririck claimed sexist remarks and rude behaviour, especially on reality TV shows Celebrity Big Brother and Celebrity Wife Swap, were a “pantomime” role that had been encouraged by Channel 4. But the panel was told by witnesses from the station and IMG that he was dropped because he was “offensive”.
Channel 4 awarded the contract for racing to IMG Media last year, and unveiled a presenting team headed by Clare Balding.
Thomas Linden QC, for Channel 4, told the tribunal that a survey suggested that McCririck was unpopular with viewers: “Even without data, it’s a reasonable assumption, isn’t it, that the claimant’s profile, whether that is in his reality television programmes or in racing broadcasting, was off-putting to many.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved