The controversial pundit John McCririck was dropped from Channel 4's horse-racing programmes because he was "unappealing and irritating" to viewers, not because of his age, a senior executive at the broadcaster has claimed.

Jamie Aitchison, commissioning editor for sport, told a tribunal that the commentator's "exaggerated tone" had become "out of step" with the channel's coverage, and his boorish manner offended members of the audience. Mr McCririck, 73, who launched a £3m age discriminationclaim against his former employer, argued that his image as a bigot and a sexist went "side by side" with his career as a serious journalist.

But Mr Aitchison told the tribunal that when Channel 4 won the rights to "crown jewel" events, including the Grand National and Royal Ascot in 2012, a change was required to the broadcaster's presentation which had become too "niche".

The pundit's "exaggerated tone and style and propensity to offend was out of step with the vision for the programme," he said. The hearing continues.

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