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Too old for TV?

Miriam O’Reilly investigates ageism in the media and society

Photo: London Evening Standard

11 February 2011

Leigh Day partner Camilla Palmer recently represented TV journalist Miriam O’Reilly in her successful claim against the BBC on the grounds of age discrimination and victimisation.  The award-winning journalist was sacked from presenting Countryfile when the programme moved to a prime-time slot.  The Employment Tribunal ruled that the decision to drop her from the programme amounted to age discrimination.  The tribunal also ruled that she was victimised because her boss thought wrongly that she had gone to the press saying that the decision was ageist.  Following the ruling the BBC apologised to Miriam and said that they wanted to work with her again.

ITV have now broadcast a programme, Too old for TV? (10.2.11) in which Miriam reports on ageism in the media and wider society.  During the programme Miriam interviews a number of famous TV faces such as Arlene Phillips, Les Dennis and Angela Rippon, as well as TV executive such as Dawn Airey, Alan Yentob and Peter Fincham.

Speaking about her dismissal Miriam said:

“My reaction was that I was sacked because of my age. My ability to do my job on Countryfile had never been questioned. I didn’t think it was fair to lose it for something I had no control over – getting older. Deciding to take action though was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make.”

Speaking about the case discrimination specialist Camilla Palmer said:

"This was a landmark decision showing that those working in the media, whether as employees or contractors, must be selected for programmes on the basis of their ability, not their age.  We hope it will lead to changes throughout the media and an end to the current obsession with youth.”

If you think you have been the victim of illegal discrimination at work and would like to speak to a lawyer about a possible claim please contact the employment team at Leigh Day & Co on 020 7650 1200.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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