Gareth Cliff. (Photo: Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Gareth Cliff will on Tuesday face M-Net, the broadcasting giant he has launched an urgent court application against in an effort to be reinstated as a judge on singing competition, Idols.
In his court papers, Cliff described M-Net's axing of him as a "knee-jerk" response and said that he found the decision to fire him "peculiar" given the fact that two other judges has also been involved in a public race debate.
"The response by the first respondent [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."
Although initially missing a deadline to respond to Cliff's urgent application, M-Net hit back hard, saying that market research conducted showed that he was "poison" for the M-Net and Idols brand.
"If M-Net had permitted the 2016 season of Idols to continue with Gareth Cliff as judge and the threats and calls for a boycott had grown, it would have become even more problematic to address the situation at a later stage and the damage to the Idols and M-Net brands would already have occurred," said M-Net ceo, Yolisa Phahle in responding court papers.
The heavyweights will slug it out in the Johannesburg High Court on Tuesday. Cliff is asking a judge that he be reinstated. Should the judge not rule in his favour, a second part of his application is that the Idols' auditions are halted pending a R25m lawsuit.
On Monday night, Cliff remained light-hearted, tweeting this message to his more than 1.25m followers.