Axed Cliff brings out the big guns

19 January 2016 - 02:14 By Leonie Wagner

Gareth Cliff has hit back at M-Net, calling the television broadcaster racist and its axing of him "opportunistic". The comment came as the Idols SA judge was set to institute a R25-million claim against the channel after he was fired following social media comments related to the recent racist rants of Penny Sparrow on Facebook.At the time, Cliff tweeted: "People really don't understand freedom of speech at all."Days later M-Net issued a statement announcing that Cliff had been dropped from the latest edition of Idols SA.Cliff issued the channel with a letter of demand, giving it until 2pm yesterday afternoon to provisionally reinstate him.When M-Net failed to meet the deadline, one of Cliff's legal representatives indicated that the former radio star would be heading to court.Cliff will be represented by high-profile advocate Dali Mpofu, who represented the families of the strikers killed at Marikana in 2012.According to his letter of demand, Cliff stated that the conduct of M-Net was in gross violation of "his personality rights not to be defamed" and his constitutional rights.It stated: "The singling out of [Cliff] as an easy target is, ironically, an exhibition of racism."Cliff also claimed in the letter that he was "being abused as the proverbial sacrificial lamb".But David Swartz, an attorney who specialises in defamation law, believes Cliff's monetary claim is "stupid"."That R25-million is an astronomical amount. It's unrealistic. Our courts don't award those kinds of amounts. He'll be lucky to get R500 000."And I don't believe that he will get his job back," Swartz said.

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