M-Net reviewing High Court judgment in Gareth Cliff case

Cliff will hold a press conference tomorrow to offer insight into ‘his side of the story’.

M-Net will review a South Gauteng High Court judgment which has ordered that media personality Gareth Cliff must be reinstated to his position as an Idols judge, its spokesperson Nondumiso Mabece has said.

This, after the court ruled in favour of Cliff’s defamation case on Friday morning, including that M-Net pay costs in the case.

Mabece said it was not yet established if there would an application for leave to appeal against the judgment. But according to Cliff’s lawyer, Eric Mabuza, the judgment was “unappealable” due to the interim relief factor sought in the case.

Judge Caroline Nicholls in her judgement made clear her findings were only based on a Cliff’s contract.

“At the outset it should be emphasised that at this juncture what is before court are not issues relating to freedom of speech or freedom of speech versus hate speech, or indeed whether Cliff is a racist or supports racists,” the full judgement reads in part.

“These issues, which recently have been the subject of much public debate, are not the subject matter of this urgent court. At present the crux of dispute is the contractual relationship between the parties and whether it should be restored to its position as of January 6, 2016.”

Mabece said the social media response towards M-Net had not yet been assessed.

Mabuza, who is part of Cliff’s legal team including Advocate Dali Mpofu, the Idols judges needed to be back in the chairs by February 3.

Cliff took the broadcaster to court for defamation of character after they axed him for posting a tweet amid the Penny Sparrow racism saga from earlier this year.

He was fired after tweeting people did not understand free speech “at all” in response to a poll on whether or not racial outbursts should be criminalised. He tweeted this in the thick of the Penny

Sparrow racism saga earlier this month, whose post left many South Africans fuming.

Nicholls in her full judgement states: “Cliff has satisfied the requirements for interim relief. He has made out a prima facie case for the contractual relief he contends for …

“Regarding costs, it was argued that the pattern of behaviour and the general conduct of M-Net justifies a punitive costs order. I am not satisfied that such an order is warranted.”

She ordered the “contractual relationship between the parties is reinstated to what it was on or about January 6, 2016”, and M-Net, the respondents, are to pay the costs of the application “on a party and party scale, including the costs attendant upon the employment of two counsels”.

Meanwhile, Cliff will hold a press conference tomorrow, where he is to offer insight into “his side of the story”, said Mabuza.

– yadhanaj@citizen.co.za

today in print

today in print