Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Gareth Cliff files urgent court application against M-Net and Idols; says M-Net was racist to fire him, 'being abused as sacrificial lamb'.

The fired Idols judge Gareth Cliff has filed an urgent court interdict against M-Net to reinstate him as Idols judge on the 12th season of the reality show on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) set to start nationwide auditions on 29 January and says M-Net was racist for firing him and that he is "being abused as the proverbial sacrificial lamb".

Gareth Cliff in court papers also slams Naspers - of which M-Net is part - for how it supported and promoted the racist policy of Apartheid, calling Naspers "propaganda machinery".

Gareth Cliff is suing M-Net for R25 million - R5 million for defamation of character and R20 million for breach of contract in the 83-page court application that was filed today.

Gareth Cliff also wants M-Net to retract "harmful remarks" made in their 9 January 2016 statement, for M-Net to make an unconditional apology, and to cover all his court costs.

In court papers Gareth Cliff slams M-Net for its "persistent attempt to fake morality for selfish commercial expediency and political cowardice". 

According to his legal team, Gareth Cliff is demanding that "he be reinstated, and if they don't do that he intends to stop the Idols auditions which are starting on 29 January. He also wants to clear his name and is looking to claim for damages", says his lawyer.

In papers filed at the High Court on Johannesburg on Tuesday, Gareth Cliff says "M-Net had an unlawful knee-jerk reaction in misguided protection, at my expense, of its commercial interests, which were not in fact under any threat". 

The court application also reveals that M-Net paid Gareth Cliff R356 000 in 2015 for the 11th season of Idols.

Gareth Cliff has slammed M-Net as being "opportunistic", saying "the singling out as an easy target is, ironically, an exhibition of racism" and that he is "being abused as the proverbial sacrificial lamb".

"The response by [M-Net] in axing me was quite peculiar not only because of its inconsistency with how other judges had been dealt with, but also because M-Net itself had for many years been able to withstand criticism of racism and, more recently, gender discrimination due to either the low number of black winners and/or the total absence to date of a female winner," says Gareth Cliff in his court filing.

Gareth Cliff apparently forgot that former Idols winners include females like Anke Pietrangeli (2003), Karin Kortje (2005), Jody Williams (2007) and Sasha-Lee Jacobs who became a joint-winner after 1009's M-Net's Idols voting scandal.

Gareth Cliff slams Naspers in court papers,saying the media giant had "put a lot of decisive effort into building, promoting and supporting the hateful, racist and cruel policy known as apartheid", saying Naspers was part of the "highly effective propaganda machinery" and that Naspers is "the last people to lecture me about the pains of our past".

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.

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

Meanwhile pressure is also building on M-Net and [SIC Entertainment producing the upcoming 12th season to delay the start, since auditions will start in just over a week.

M-Net spokesperson Nondumiso Mabece says "at this stage we are not able to comment further on this matter until the legal team that is handling it is able to advise us accordingly on the next steps".

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 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.