Axed Idols judge Gareth Cliff won a mammoth lawsuit against M-Net on Friday, hours before the first auditions for the show were due to start.

The celebrity won his bid to be reinstated as a judge of the popular talent scouting show, Judge Caroline Nicholls ruled in the High Court in Johannesburg.


“This is a contractual dispute. The contractual relationship has to be reinstated to what it was. M-Net will pay costs to Gareth Cliff,” Nicholls told a packed court.

Cliff, dressed smartly in a dark suit, smiled as the ruling, which lasted four minutes, was read out.

Earlier this week, the court heard an urgent court application by him to be reinstated as a judge on the reality singing competition. Cliff was booted from the M-Net show after he commented on KwaZulu-Natal realtor Penny Sparrow’s Facebook post in which she called black people monkeys.

Cliff tweeted: “People really don’t understand free speech at all”, creating consternation on social media and prompting M-Net to sack him, saying it did not want to be associated with a racist.

On Tuesday, however, his lawyer Dali Mpofu argued that his axing was the worst form of racism, while M-Net’s Wim Trengove tried to convince the court that the broadcaster never had a contract with Cliff.

Cliff wanted his job back and R25 million for defamation and breach of contract.

Auditions for Idols 2016 will begin at The Playhouse in Durban on Saturday.

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