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Sat Jun 25 16:03:44 SAST 2016

Gareth Cliff must be reinstated as an Idols judge: court

Nomahlubi Jordaan | 29 January, 2016 10:17
Fans pose with Gareth Cliff. Gareth Cliff, a controversial media personality, went head-to-head with M-Net on Tuesday in the Johannesburg High Court.
Image by: Alon Skuy

M-Net has been ordered to reinstate Gareth Cliff as an 'Idols' judge and to pay the costs of his court application.

A judge has ruled that Cliff must retain his position as a judge on the hit reality show.

Judge Caroline Nicholls said a contract did exist between Cliff and M-Net and that it should be honoured.

A relaxed-looking Gareth Cliff had arrived at the High Court in Johannesburg on Friday ahead of a judgment.

Cliff, dressed in a black suit and white shirt, arrived at court, whistling as he walked out of the lift. 

M-Net axed Cliff as a judge for the 12th season of the South African version of the reality talent show earlier this month after a public outcry over a remark he posted on social network Twitter. In the wake of the Penny Sparrow racism row‚ Cliff tweeted that "people don't understand free speech at all".

In an urgent application heard on Tuesday‚ Cliff asked the court to order M-Net to reinstate him or pay him R25-million in damages for defamation of character and the termination of his contract.

The first Idols auditions are set to take place in Durban on Saturday.

Cliff's legal team said he would not take part in the pre-auditions on Saturday but will be at the main auditions scheduled for February 3.

Advocate Dali Mpofu‚ on behalf of Cliff‚ on Tuesday told the court that there was a contract between Cliff and M-Net and M-Net terminated this contract without following the correct procedures.

He said that Cliff had suffered the "worst form of discrimination" because he was white‚ while other Idols judges have made "offensive" remarks on social media but have not been fired for it.

However‚ Advocate Wim Trengove‚ for M-Net‚ said that there had not been a contract between the broadcaster and Cliff. He said there was an offer from M-Net but Cliff had not yet accepted it.

He also said M-Net had the right to decide whom it wanted to associate with and it no longer wanted to have Cliff as a judge on Idols.

“M-Net say they do not want somebody who defended Penny Sparrow‚” Trengove argued.

Additional source: News 24

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