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Gareth Cliff cleared of sexism charge

2011-11-04 12:25
Johannesburg - Radio DJ and Idols judge Gareth Cliff has been cleared of all charges of hate speech against him relating to comments he made on air, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) said on Friday.

According to complaints received by the BCCSA, on September 8 during the airing of the Gareth Cliff Show, Cliff interviewed Angela Larkan about her humanitarian activities. The woman, now 27 years old, had started her humanitarian programme when she was 22 years old.

During the on air discussion Cliff made mention of her very young age and remarked that to have started her programme at such an early age was commendable because as he stated "girls of 22 usually do nothing but lie on their backs with their legs open", according to the complaint made to the BCCSA.

BCCSA chairman Kobus van Rooyen said the reference to "girls" or "women" by the complainants was because of a misquote by newspapers.

"Whatever the presenter [Cliff] said, he did not make a sexist reference. One might infer that he referred to females since the person interviewed, Ms Larkan, is a female," said van Rooyen.

He said Cliff's comment that "most 22-year-olds are laying [sic] on their backs with their legs open at 22, or else they are drinking", was nothing more than an outrageous, probably ill-chosen, comparison.

Cliff, 5FM station manager Aisha Mohamed and a representative from the Broadcasting Compliance SABC Legal Services, Policy and Regulatory Affairs attended the BBCSA hearing on October 7.


"We are delighted with the BBCSA's ruling that Gareth's comments were not sexist," Mohamed said in a statement.

"In light of the fact that what Gareth said was in many cases taken out of context as well as misquoted, we feel that this is indeed a victory for free speech."

Cliff said the BCCSA's finding was an example of a complaint based on "hearsay and misquoting".

"Thank goodness for the BCCSA, they seem to agree with my response on, which I posted shortly after this storm in a teacup," he said.

In his official response on his website Cliff wrote that the "whole story is preposterous".

"It is spurious and seems a deliberate attempt by a minor politician and newspapers to make a mountain out of a molehill.

"The reason I had Angela on my show is because she is precisely the opposite of the kind of girl I am alleged to have offended," he wrote.

"I refute the allegation and consider it insulting in turn to be called sexist."

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