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McCririck: Age discrimination defeat 'an historic setback'

Racing pundit John McCririck has given his reaction to losing his age discrimination case against Channel 4 today.

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.

I have let them all down along with my wife, the Booby, my legal team, friends, colleagues and countless members of the public who supported me throughout. My grateful thanks and apologies to every one of them.

Former Labour home secretary David Blunkett MP said in August: 'The way TV executives worship the cult of youth seems to be an unstoppable fetish'.

It is now.

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Audience research on McCririck was 'among worst ever'

Flamboyant racing pundit John McCririck was dumped from a high-profile role on Channel 4 because he was "alienating" and "very offensive", an employment tribunal has been told.

Jay Hunt, Channel 4's chief creative officer, said a talent tracker study on how he went down with audiences was "one of the worst pieces of research I have ever seen regarding a presenter".

McCririck with his wife Jenny, who he refers to as 'The Booby'. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

McCririck, 73, who was dropped from Channel 4's revamped on-screen line-up, is accusing his former employers of age discrimination.

Ms Hunt said the audience research on him was "one of the most dispiriting" documents she had seen.

C4 exec denies McCririck 'age discrimination' claim

A TV executive has denied claims by racing presenter John McCririck that she was a "serial age discrimination offender".

Jay Hunt, Channel 4's chief creative officer, told an employment tribunal she felt there was "no correlation" between younger presenters drawing younger audiences.

Former BBC executive Jay Hunt pictured at the Miriam O'Reilly tribunal in 2010.

She added that claims by McCririck, who says he was sacked by the channel because of his age, were "untrue".

Hunt was at the BBC when presenter Miriam O'Reilly won an age discrimination case against the corporation after she was dropped from the Countryfile programme.

"Contrary to what John McCririck says, I have learnt from that case," Hunt told the tribunal.

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John McCririck 'panto style' criticised

A senior television producer suggested John McCririck should be dropped from the revamped Channel 4 racing line-up because his "pantomime" presenting was a distraction, an employment tribunal has heard.

Carl Hicks, the IMG production company's executive producer of Channel 4 Racing, said there was no "appropriate role" for the flamboyant presenter.

John McCririck outside the London Central Employment Tribunal today. Credit: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

"John was an eccentric and seen at worst as a loud-mouthed and chauvinistic extraordinaire, which was not what I wanted to be part of the team to broaden racing," Hicks told the central London hearing.

"My perception from watching John McCririck on television in the past was that he came across as being aggressive, sexist and non-inclusive."

McCririck 'irritating' to viewers, tribunal hears

The former boss of John McCririck claims the racing pundit was dropped by Channel 4 because he was "unappealing and irritating" to many Channel 4 viewers.

Jamie Aitchison was giving evidence at Mr McCririck's employment tribunal, where the 73-year-old claims he was sacked because of his age.

ITV News correspondent Juliet Bremner reports:

C4: 'Irritating' McCririck was not sacked for his age

Horse racing pundit John McCririck was sacked because he was "irritating" to viewers, says Channel 4 Credit: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Horse racing pundit John McCririck was sacked from Channel 4 because he was "irritating" to viewers, an employment tribunal has heard.

Jamie Aitchison, the commissioning editor for sport at Channel 4, said McCririck was a "comic act" who brought a "farcical tone" to shows and was not left out of its new horse racing presenting team because of age.

Aitchison said concerns over McCririck's style were supported by audience surveys, press coverage and viewer complaints.

He added that the pundit's "exaggerated tone and style and propensity to offend was out of step with the vision for the programme, and also unappealing and irritating to many current and potential viewers".

McCririck denies 'pantomime' act reduced 'gravitas'

John McCririck's appearances as a "pantomime villain" on a number of reality TV shows, did not reduce his "gravitas" as a serious racing pundit, he told an employment tribunal.

John McCririck, who is taking former employer Channel 4 and IMG Media Limited to tribunal for sacking. Credit: Press Association

The former Channel 4 racing presenter is taking his former employers to tribunal, alleging his sacking last year was motivated by age discrimination.

The tribunal heard how McCririck had accepted he acted in a way that could be seen as sexist and bigoted, but said this behaviour had no baring on his ability to do his job. He said:

"No one ever came to me. Nobody has ever questioned my professionalism on Channel 4 racing, ever.

"My pantomime villain sexist image has been deliberately cultivated and played up.

"Because Captain Hook is horrid to children in Peter Pan it does not mean the actor playing him goes around abusing kids."

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