Monday, January 18, 2016

Fired Idols judge Gareth Cliff set to sue M-Net for R25 million over alleged unfair dismissal and defamation of character; wants his Idols job back.

The fired Idols judge Gareth Cliff is set to sue M-Net for a massive R25 million in damages over alleged unfair dismissal and alleged defamation of character.

eNCA (DStv 403) reports that Gareth Cliff's lawyer, Eric Mabuza, said the radio DJ is suing the Randburg-based pay-TV broadcaster for R25 million in damages over his abrupt firing and also wants to return to the show.

The massive R25 million legal case mounted by Gareth Cliff represents the biggest single law suit against M-Net from an individual entertainer ever and will dull what is M-Net's 30th anniversary this year in October since the pay-TV broadcaster started 3 decades ago in 1986.

Ironically, advocate Dali Mpofu, the former SABC CEO, will now represent Gareth Cliff in his case against Idols and the pay-TV broadcaster.

M-Net spokesperson Nondumiso Mabece in response to a media enquiry tells me that "M-Net can confirm that a letter of demand was received from Gareth Cliff and we are currently consulting our lawyers. We will respond to the letter of demand in due course."

The nationwide auditions of the 12th season of Idols, produced by [SIC] Entertainment, is starting in less than two weeks' time on 29 January.

M-Net told Gareth Cliff last Friday that he's fired over social media comments related to the racist Penny Sparrow debate that ignited a firestorm in South Africa.

After the real estate agent called black people "monkeys", Gareth Cliff remarked that "People really don't understand free speech at all."

Last Saturday M-Net issued a press statement that Gareth Cliff has been dismissed from the M-Net (DStv 101) and Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) show over "insensitivity" he's shown in his remarks.

M-Net raised eyebrows getting rid of Gareth Cliff when it M-Net executives didn't fire or sanction the other Idols judge, Somizi Mhlongo, for racist comments that that Idols judge made at the end of December.

"Gareth Cliff is suing for R25 million, including for defamation of character," Eric Mabuza told eNCA.

Gareth Cliff also wants the start of Idols production immediately halted, until such time as that he can be reinstated as a judge on the panel of the reality singing show.

Eric Mabuza says Gareth Cliff was fired without a proper hearing.

Eric Mabuza says both the Idols judges Unathi Msengana and Somizi Mhlongo made inappropriate comments in the past but nothing happened to them while "they [M-Net] simply fired him without even a proper hearing".

Eric Mabuza says Gareth Cliff is of the belief that he would have remained an Idols judge for another 4 to 5 seasons on the show - meaning that according to him, Idols in South Africa would have continued to at least a15th or 16th season.

Gareth Cliff last week said being on Idols and being an Idols judge on the M-Net and Mzansi Magic show was only a hobby, described it as "an extramural activity" and that "I have felt my time was up a good couple of years ago".

Also last week Gareth Cliff said on his online show at CliffCentral that 'A lot of people are saying I'm going to take them [M-Net and Idols] to court and stuff which is nonsense".

Now he wants R25 million from M-Net for no longer participating in the extramural activity, and is taking M-Net to court.

The 12th season of Idols will no longer be a co-production between M-Net and Mzansi Magic with M-Net that has dumped Idols in favour of The Voice South Africa, and with Idols that will now only be broadcast on the Mzansi Magic channel.