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John McCririck’s use of anti-discrimination legislation heralds the end of irony

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Legal Cheek’s new columnist WaitroseLaw is dismayed by John McCririck’s use of a forthcoming employment tribunal to re-launch himself as an equality crusader

They say irony died when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But if it’s been dangling on life support all these years, the day John McCririck cast himself as a campaigner against discrimination was surely the day the machine got turned off.

An employment tribunal confirmed on Friday that McCririck’s £3 million age discrimination claim against Channel 4 can go ahead. McCririck was one of several presenters who ceased presenting Channel 4’s racing output at the end of 2012. He claims his “landmark action” will be a “beacon” to workers living in fear of being unfairly sacked.

Is this the same John McCririck who claimed that the Irish “preferred to be looked after”, who refers to his wife as “Booby” and his former co-presenter as “the Female” and was kicked off Loose Women for being “gratuitously insulting” (admittedly, rather like being thrown out of the Foreign Legion for being a tad unsympathetic)?

Sadly, McCririck’s stint as an activist may be short-lived; he’s stated that he will drop his case if he is reinstated by Channel 4 with a full apology and costs.

This isn’t, of course, the first time that Britain’s favourite former horse racing pundit has shown an interest in equality issues. Last month, he kicked off a campaign to stop women wearing high heels. Quoth our hero: “We need to tell all women that no man ever goes for a girl because of the shoes she’s wearing.” Women everywhere will no doubt be grateful for the sartorial guidance from McCririck (pictured above).

McCririck follows in the footsteps of Miriam O’Reilly, who won a similar claim against the BBC 2 years ago. If he can establish that he wasn’t self-employed and that his removal was based on ageist assumptions or the desire to appeal to a younger audience, his claim may succeed. However, McCririck’s bid to get his hands on £2.5 million in “punitive damages” seems a little ambitious — they’re rarely awarded in employment claims. And in any case, employment awards tend to be much lower than that sort of figure. Still, £2.5 million would buy a lot of cigars and silly hats, so worth a shot.

The tribunal will hear the matter again on 19 July, when a date for a full hearing is likely to be set. Channel 4 and IMG Media deny the allegations.