Former Channel 4 racing pundit John McCririck has engaged in a £3million legal battle with his former employers, claiming he was sacked for being too old.

Mr McCririck was dropped by the television station in October year, when its racing team was revamped. He is now suing Channel 4 and IMG Sports Media for £2.5m in punitive damages, and a further £500,000 in compensation for loss of future earnings, career damage, public humiliation, stress and mental anguish.

Mr McCririck, 73, believes his case could secure a future for all those threatened by age discrimination.

Speaking outside the hearing at the Central London Employment Tribunal on Monday (3 June), Mr McCririck said: “This is a far bigger issue than just me. There are people in their 40s, 50s and 60s who dread that a younger person will come in and take their job. That is why I am claiming £3million, so that no one will ever be sacked because they are trying to get a younger person.”

Channel 4 and IMG reject allegations of ageism and will refute the claims. At the time, McCririck said he was given “audience research” as the reason behind his dismissal.

There is currently some debate over whether McCririck was freelance or employed by the broadcaster, which is being heard by employment tribunal judge. He will decide in a few weeks’ time whether a full tribunal will take place.

Mr McCririck has gone public over the anxiety he has suffered since losing his job, calling himself “unemployable”. He was hospitalised after collapsing at Cheltenham in March, which his wife put down to stress.

He had been a TV racing pundit for 31 years, starting at ITV.