Former Sky Sports presenter Andy Gray is set to sue the broadcaster for £3 million in an unfair dismissal lawsuit after losing his job following a sexism row with fellow presenter Richard Keys.
The football pundit was sacked on Tuesday after leaked videos showed him making sexist comments and actions. But he has now instructed law firm Shillings to act on his behalf and spent yesterday discussing plans for legal action with them.
Gray, who was reportedly paid £1.7 million per year by Sky Sports, is believed to want £3 million for the remainder of his contract.
Sources close to Gray told the Daily Mirror that he found out he was sacked “just minutes” before the news was released to the media, As a result, he did not feel “like he got a second chance or was allowed to apologise. He feels he didn’t get a fair crack of the whip”.
But Sky said: “The decision, which is effective immediately, was made in response to new evidence of unacceptable and offensive behaviour.”
Gray and his colleague Richard Keys were suspended on Monday after making disparaging off-air comments over the weekend about lineswoman Sian Massey’s appearance and understanding of the offside rule.
Gray had his contract cancelled after further footage on YouTube showed him asking a female Sky presenter to put a microphone down his trousers, however. Richard Keys has now also resigned.
Although any failure to act by Sky Sports could have made it open to future claims of sex discrimination, Martin Edwards, a partner and head of employment law at Mace & Jones told the Mirror that Gray may have a strong case.
“Did Sky get it right legally? Employers who sack people as a knee-jerk reaction may have to pay heavy compensation for unfair dismissal,” he said.
But three former and current female staff at Sky Sports, who asked to remain anonymous so as not to harm their careers, attested to the Guardian that Gray and Keys had fostered a bullying and sexist culture.
One said: “There are many stories of their shocking behaviour. They are hated by the crews. It’s a climate of fear pervading. But as long as everyone is laughing and it’s a joke, it’s alright, isn’t it? I believe sexism is systemic and not openly challenged but goes underground or disguised as jokes or ‘just banter’.”