M-Net deadline on Gareth Cliff legal case looms

2016-01-20 07:00
Gareth Cliff (CliffCentral)

Johannesburg - The legal battle between Gareth Cliff and M-Net will on Wednesday likely for the first time give a glimpse into the broadcaster's argument on the firing of the former Idols judge.

Cliff's legal team on Tuesday launched an urgent application to have him reinstated as a judge on the show. M-Net has been given a deadline of 10:00 to oppose the application, or reinstate him. Should the broadcaster oppose the application, supporting documents with reasons on this decision have to be provided by Thursday.

The matter, meanwhile, has been set to be heard in the High Court in Johannesburg on 26 January. If the judge rules that Gareth is not to be reinstated as a judge on the popular singing competition, a second order to halt auditions due to take place on 30 January in Durban has also been lodged.

Earlier meetings between Cliff's legal team and M-Net saw only one of his demands being met. The broadcaster agreed to have all of Cliff's images removed from advertising material.

Legal documents obtained by The Juice on Tuesday revealed that Cliff earns a package fee of R356 160 to judge ten sessions of the singing competition. In the legal papers, Cliff says M-Net had an "unlawful knee-jerk misguided protection, at my expense, of its commercial interests, which were not in fact under any threat..."

Double standard?

In response to questions about a so-called double standard on 9 January, M-Net released a statement explaining why action was taken against Cliff, but not fellow judges Unathi Msengana and Somizi Mhlongo who were also involved in similar social media storms. 

"Over the last few months following Unathi's indiscretions on social media, we been in discussions with our judges, presenters and talent to sensitize them to the pitfalls of using social media. Unfortunately we then had to deal with Somizi’s inappropriate comments, and following the latest issue we have now implemented a zero tolerance policy."

However, in court documents filed on Tuesday (point 31), Gareth denies this.

"The discussions held in that paragraph were not held with me."

According to M-Net discussions were held with the judges, but no action was taken. Cliff goes on to add that this is a double standard. (point 31.7)

"It is my view that in both the Msengana and Mhlongo cases, the first respondent dealt with the matters correctly, but not in my case."