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News News Ad tycoon 'put old worker out to pasture'
ADVERTISING man John Singleton has been accused of ordering an employee to be sacked on the grounds he was "too old" to do the job.

Gary Loxley, a 63-year-old former maintenance man at Mr Singleton's Strawberry Hill horse stud on the New South Wales central coast, has taken his former boss to the Anti-Discrimination Board, claiming he was dismissed because of his age.

Mr Loxley alleges Mr Singleton, 65, told the stud master Richard King to sack him in April this year because he was "too old".

In documents submitted to the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board, Mr Loxley said Mr King had come to his home to sack him and told him about a conversation he had had with Mr Singleton in which Mr Loxley's age was given as the reason for his dismissal.

"This discriminatory allegation allegedly arose from a conversation the previous evening with Mr King and the stud owner John Singleton," Mr Loxley wrote in his claim. Mr Loxley's ex-wife Diana supported this version of events in a letter written in May in which she said she overheard the conversation between Mr Loxley and Mr King. "(Mr King) told Gary he and John had had a meeting the night before and John (Singleton) wanted Gary gone as he was too old for the job," she wrote. "Gary's face was white and he told me 'that's it, I'm gone'. Naturally I couldn't believe it."

Mr Loxley's industrial relations advocate John St Vincent Welch told The Australian yesterday the Anti-Discrimination Board had contacted his client and confirmed they were investigating the case.

In his claim Mr Loxley said he was told by other staff before his dismissal that Mr King had told them he was "too old for the job". Mr Loxley is seeking a return to work, a suitably worded reference, compensation for damages and legal costs. "I remain unemployed with an outstanding workers compensation claim due to a work-related injury requiring surgery," he wrote in the claim.

The matter was originally listed in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission but was discontinued by Mr Loxley. Mr Loxley claimed his employment separation certificate stated "unsuitability for this type of work", which he described as "amazing after seven years of contractor or employee status".

Mr Loxley alleged the company Ognis, which traded as the Strawberry Hill Stud, changed its defence in an IRC conciliation conference to "unsatisfactory work performance". He alleged the defence was further amended "to an incident involving 'a fox killing swans' due to an electric fence not being positive". Mr Loxley said an "unacceptable" offer to settle had been made on behalf of the employer.

The Australian left messages with Mr Singleton's personal assistant yesterday, but at the time of publication had not received a response. Mr Loxley said in his claim he had withdrawn the IRC action "due to jurisdictional limitations possibly arising from 'Howard legislation' and moving target defence".

Mr Singleton, the most famous name in Australian advertising, sold his ad-agency in May, after nearly 50 years in the business. He sold his parcel of 18 million shares in STW group and told the media "It's time to go". Mr Singleton is the majority shareholder of Macquarie Radio, holds 30 per cent of Lonely Planet publications and has other business interests including the Magic Millions racing carnival and sale and the Blue Tongue Brewery.

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