Gareth Cliff judgment in three days' time - Times LIVE
Tue Apr 25 02:51:29 SAST 2017

Gareth Cliff judgment in three days' time

Nomahlubi Jordaan | 2016-01-26 16:48:17.0
April 3, 2014. Gareth Cliff during an interview after he left 5FM as DJ.
Image by: Waldo Swiegers/Sunday Times

Judge Caroline Nicholls will rule by Friday whether Gareth Cliff should remain a judge on Idols or not.

The first auditions for the 12th season of the reality television talent show is set to take place in Durban on Saturday.

M-Net axed Cliff as a judge for the 12th season of the South African version of the 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".

Cliff is asking the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg to order his reinstatement. Alternatively, Cliff wants R25-million in damages for defamation of character and the termination of his contract.

Nicholls reserved judgment on Tuesday afternoon after hours of hearing arguments from advocates for Cliff and M-Net. She said she will deliver her judgment before 10am on Friday.

Earlier, Advocate Dali Mpofu, for Cliff, told the court that the case was not about whether or not Cliff was a racist.

Both parties agreed that Cliff was not a racist and the case was about the enforcement of contractual right, Mpofu said.

Mpofu said a contract existed between Cliff and M-Net and in terminating the contract, M-Net violated Cliff's constitutional rights.

He led the court through a series of e-mails exchanged between Cliff and M-Net in December in which M-Net informed Cliff that his contract to be a judge on the upcoming season of Idols would be sent to him once it was in hand. The e-mails contained dates of this year's auditions for the show and also promised Cliff a 6% increase in pay to R377 530.

He said M-Net did not meet the requirements for termination in its own contract because it failed to give notice of the termination, reasons for it and make a payment.

But Advocate Wim Trengove argued on behalf of M-Net that there had been no contract yet between M-Net and Cliff but only correspondence indicating that a contract was being considered. This changed after the tweet and the reaction to it, he said.

Trengove said the public perception that Cliff is a racist, was enough for M-Net to say it did not want him representing its brand.

He said M-Net was responding to the public call for a boycott of its channels because of Cliff’s utterance.

Trengove argued that it was highly impractical for Cliff to argue that the court should compel M-Net to have him as a judge on the reality talent show.

M-Net had the right to decide whom it wanted as judges and it did not want Cliff, Trengove said.

He said the broadcaster could terminate any Idols judge's contract with a week's notice.


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