John McCririck: He’s over the first hurdle but will he win the race?

14 October, 2013
by: Cripps Pemberton Greenish

In 2012 the contract to produce Channel 4’s racing programmes was terminated with Highflyer Productions Limited and a new contract was given to IMG Sports Media (IMG) (part of IMG Worldwide Inc.) for 2013. It was at this time the decision was taken by IMG not to include John McCririck (aged 72 at the time) in their 2013 racing team. John McCririck promptly submitted a claim to the Employment Tribunal (ET) for unfair dismissal seeking damages for age discrimination in excess of £3million and his old job back. The claim was issued against both the broadcaster, Channel 4, and the production company IMG.

At a preliminary hearing in June 2013 the ET considered whether both Channel 4 and IMG were the correct Respondents for the claim. The ET confirmed that the claim should proceed against both parties as the broadcaster had the ultimate say in how the 2013 racing team was made up. Both Channel 4 and IMG deny the claims.

The hearing commenced last week when IMG’s Commissioning Editor for sport told the ET that “John McCririck’s exaggerated tone and style and propensity to offend was out of step with the vision of the programme, and also unappealing and irritating to many current and potential viewers”. John McCririck who appeared in Channel 4’s Celebrity Big Brother and Celebrity Wife Swap, insisted he would have changed his approach if Channel 4 had asked him to do so.

John McCririck told the ET that his “boorish, obnoxious and sexist” behaviour was part of a “pantomime act”. Ironically he had previously told the media that “you are as you are on the telly” and “I think it’s the real me. Anyone who tried to put on an act on telly over the years wouldn’t get away with it”. John McCririck’s claim that the real reason he was dismissed was due to his age was supported by evidence given by Lesley Graham who told the ET that she believed her working hours were reduced because of her age.

The Tribunal panel has retired to make their decision.