Yes, according to the eccentric former Channel 4 racing pundit, John McCririck now aged 73.
During a very public dispute with his former employer, Channel 4 and the production company IMG Media Limited, Mr McCririck lashed out at his former bosses for refusing to include him in this year’s racing presenting team; he blames being dropped by the broadcaster on the grounds of his age. However, Channel 4 has indicated that his displays of extreme behaviour and obvious sexism (both on and off the camera) have caused nothing but embarrassment to viewers and that his age has absolutely no bearing on its decision to axe him from the show.
Only last week, the Central London Employment Tribunal heard allegations by Mr McCririck that the decision to remove him from the show was an opportunity for Channel 4 to ‘freshen up’ its appeal and, in his opinion, this meant “kicking out the older people”. On giving evidence, he denied being anti-women and stated that any “apparent sexism [during the show] was simply part of the pantomime role that he had been encouraged to continue.”
He also alleged that had he ever been warned by Channel 4 or IMG to tone down his act then he would have readily agreed.
To the contrary, Channel 4 and IMG strongly deny the allegations and in their defence have argued that it was Mr McCririck’s own bigotry and sexism that led to his downfall. In particular, they claim that the flamboyant gestures and cornucopia of facial expressions were nothing but “unappealing and irritating” to the viewers. Channel 4 argues that he was seen by the public as more a comic act rather than a serious racing journalist and this image was no longer the image that the production company wanted to portray.
After hearing considerable witness evidence both on behalf of Mr McCririck and from senior executives of Channel 4 and IMG, the Tribunal has retired to consider its verdict. Deliberations have been in place all this week with a decision due over the next fortnight.
We suspect that many other seventysomethings in the public glare will be waiting for this decision with the utmost interest. Mr McCirick is not just on a personal crusade to claim £3 million in damages, he is also intent on highlighting the “distressing symbol of the perils that lie in wait for even the sharpest media operator once he, or she, has reached pensionable age”.
It will be interesting to see what impact, if any, this decision with have for Channel Islands employers. Presently, neither island has any age discrimination laws so technically there’s no law preventing a Guernsey or Jersey employer from performing an act of ageism. However, we would encourage employers to think twice before terminating someone’s employment on the grounds of their age. Remember, Channel Islands employees have the fundamental right not to be unfairly dismissed and age is not a fair reason to terminate employment. Therefore, a lack of discriminatory legislation is not an excuse to replace your older staff with more “younger models”.
Don’t forget to ear mark next month’s edition of our newsletter when we shall hopefully be in a position to report on the judgment. Although I’m not the gambling type, if I was a racing pundit, my money would be on John McCririck to win!