Racing pundit John McCririck is to sue Channel 4 for £3m, claiming the broadcaster axed him from its racing coverage because he was too old.
The presenter – known for his bling, sideburns and deerstalker – was dropped when the station unveiled its new presenting team headed by Clare Balding.
McCririck has previously criticised the decision by Channel 4 to award the contract to produce the racing coverage to IMG Sports Media, ending its previous agreement with Highflyer.
In a statement issued yesterday the 72-year-old said: “Channel 4 and production company IMG Sports Media were yesterday each served a letter before action for age discrimination.
“After 29 years with Channel 4 Racing, on a rolling annual contract, I have been sacked without any consultation or cogent explanation. I am 72.
“For loss of future earnings, unfair career-damaging, public humiliation, stress and mental anguish, I will be seeking £500,000.
“Ageism is illegal. For tens of thousands of employees it has become the feared scourge of our society. This litigation should prove to be a watershed.
“I am seeking a further exemplary, punitive £2.5m, part of which will be donated to charitable organisations helping to prevent negative prejudice in the workplace.”
McCririck said he was being represented on a no-win no-fee basis by employment and sports law specialist solicitor Stephen Beverley, of the London West End Cavendish Legal Group.
McCririck said his solicitor had served papers on the executives he says are responsible for his sacking.
He alleged they are Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham, the broadcaster’s creative officer, Jay Hunt, sports editor Jamie Aitchison and Carl Hicks, executive producer of IMG Sports Media.
McCririck admitted the legal action will have its consequences. He said: “It won’t be pleasant, the vitriol will hurt. Some is bound to stick and further threaten my future prospects.
“But that is the inevitable price when asserting what is right against entrenched powerful interests.”
McCririck added that he would drop the legal action if he is “fully” reinstated, receives an apology from Channel 4 and all his costs are met.
A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: “We are grateful to John McCririck for his contribution towards the success of Channel 4 Racing.
“However, we reject the suggestion that discrimination on the basis of age played any part in the decision not to renew his freelance contract and we will be vigorously defending this claim.”