The pair had just signed a three-year ‘golden handcuffs’ deal with the channel which would see them earn £30 million for their work on Britain’s Got Talent, Saturday Night Takeaway, and I’m A Celebrity. But 16 months into that new contract, things are very much up in the air for Ant, Dec, and ITV as Ant has been arrested for drink-driving ,has confirmed that he is going back into rehab for treatment, and has asked for time off for the ‘foreseeable future’. He will therefore be stepping down from his ‘current TV commitments’, and ITV confirmed that they ‘very much hope that he gets the help that he needs’. But what does this mean for that three-year contract – and could ITV sack him?
‘Dismissal is not an automatic consequence of an employee’s drink driving charge or conviction,’ says David Sheppard, employment lawyer at Cardiff and London based firm Capital Law. ‘A drink driving criminal charge is very often the consequence of an employee’s wider personal problems (of which Ant’s have been widely publicised), and employers must weigh up the best course of action for their business. ‘Employers also need to be alert to the possibility that drink driving may be in consequence of underlying health issues which could constitute a protected disability, meaning that an employer must objectively and carefully, decide whether it can reasonably dismiss or if it is more appropriate to support the employee in their recovery and make adjustments to their role.’ He adds: ‘However, an incident of this nature, accompanied with such a huge media fanfare, undoubtedly poses serious reputational risks to employers.’
For Dec, he has been left in a precarious position as the duo come as a partnership and have done for over four decades. The two not only share a close bond, but they’ve cashed in big on their chemistry, having won the title of Most Popular Presenters at the National Television Awards 17 years running; it is also thought that the two are insured to the tune of £1 million should the other die. ‘They are both tied into lucrative and exclusive contracts that don’t hold up with only one of them, including an exclusive deal with ITV,’ PR expert Hayley Smith from Boxed Out PR says. ITV has refused to comment on this story.
Ant – who recently split with his wife Lisa Armstrong after 11 years of marriage – was driving with mum Christine, and dog Hurley, when he allegedly hit a green Mini, after allegedly veering into the wrong lane while coming off a roundabout, on Lower Richmond Road. He then reportedly crashed into a BMW X5, before his Mini Cooper ended up on the opposite side of the road. The ITV star allegedly ‘failed a roadside breathalyser test and was arrested by police’ at the scene, as a three-year-old girl was taken to hospital following the crash. Ant was ‘not bailed, but has been released under investigation,’ Met Police told Metro.co.uk.
Ant entered rehab in June 2017 for addiction to prescription painkillers and during his stay reportedly underwent intense psychoanalysis and was not allowed contact with loved ones for the entire time – except his dog, who came to stay for a few nights. On his return home rumours swirled that his relationship with wife Lisa Armstrong was struggling, and he then visited LA to continue rehab away from prying eyes. It is thought he spent the Christmas period in Newcastle with his family, and in the new year he confirmed his split from Lisa after 11 years of marriage.