Forget all the hype on Sky News about the Oscar Pistorius trial. A weekend spent building that up was, in fact, the prelude not to the trial itself, but to a ten minute appearance in which the prosecution asked for more time to prepare their case, and the trial was adjourned until August.
Instead, let’s move 8,000 miles north from South Africa and head to central London, where a much more colourful character began a claim against his former employers yesterday. I’m referring here to the ageism in the workplace claim submitted by John McCririck against IMG Sports Media and Channel 4. The former racing broadcaster is claiming £2.5m in damages and £500,000 compensation for loss of future earnings because, he claims, age rather than ability was the reason he was not kept on by Channel 4 when its new contract began in January.
The detail of what is going on in the courtroom need not detain us – yesterday was taken up with issues of whether McCririck was employed by Channel 4 or was a freelance. What I find so hilarious about the whole thing is the idea of McCririck, the Old Harrovian, acting a champion of the people as he tried to sound before going into the employment tribunal yesterday.
McCririck said, “This is far bigger than me. There are people in their 40s, 50s and 60s who dread that a younger person will come in and take them out of a job – they are in fear of it. That is why I am claiming £3m in total, so that no-one will ever be sacked because they are trying to get a younger person. On merit and ability fine, but not because they are younger.
He added that he wanted to make “the suits and the skirts answerable (because) they make their decisions, they can destroy people’s lives and careers and they are never made answerable.”
With the news that viewing figures for the Derby on Saturday were nearly 1.5m down on 2012, and lower than every year except one since the turn of the century, perhaps big John added more to the racing coverage than anyone thought at the time he left the team.