I was chatting with a media pal shortly after the Andy Gray/Richard Keys "lineswomangate" audio was released from Sky Sports. We were musing about the coincidence of its appearance across the news media and the fact that Andy Gray is taking action against the News of The World for alleged phone hacking. Both the NoW and Sky have the same owner, a Mr R Murdoch of various fixed abodes.
Andy Gray was apparently sacked not just for the remarks that he and Richard Keys made about a female assistant referee, but also because a video has come to light showing him making suggestive remarks to a Sky colleague, Charlotte Jackson. It would appear that Mr Gray's lawyers, Schillings, are taking a look at the circumstances to see if a claim for unfair dismissal is in order.
I'm not about to defend sexist behaviour or language. I don't know Andy Gray or Richard Keys personally, though I have met them both at Sky News. They know as well as anyone that whenever there is a microphone near you, your voice could be recorded. However, I suspect that the sort of banter that's been revealed goes on many times a day, in groups of males and/or females throughout the media, and in every other profession. This incident has been singled out for some reason. Perhaps a reprimand would have been appropriate. Perhaps a sacking has resulted from a series of incidents. We may never know, though an employment tribunal, should it come to that, will reveal more.
A question that puzzles me is this: How did an off-air conversation come to be distributed to a range of media outlets so rapidly? Is there any parallel with listening to private phone messages? One thing is for sure. This story is even more complex than the offside rule.