Former Idols judge Gareth Cliff did not have any contract with M-Net as emails did not count as an oral agreement, the High Court in Johannesburg heard on Tuesday.
“An oral agreement is made to parties who speak to one another in person, not via email,” M-Net’s lawyer Wim Trengove, SC, said.
“To say there was oral agreement is simply a fabrication.”
Trengove argued that M-Net had a right to decide who they associated themselves with.
“Idols judges are employed to delight and entertain, not to shock and offend,” he told the court.
According to Trengove, the common cause of Cliff’s dismissal as an Idols judge was that the response to the tweet he made was fierce and widespread.
He stated that footage of the 2015 Idols SA season was used to market the 2016 season and as Cliff was part of the 2015 season his face was used in marketing campaigns.
“Yet, it is still no indication that it is a contract.”
“M-Net only proposed an offer for the 2016 season. Cliff never responded to the offer.”
M-Net had an absolute discretion to terminate his contract on a week’s notice and Cliff was not entitled to anything.
Trengove said Cliff had the right to say whatever he wanted, but he did not have the right to be an Idols SA judge.
Cliff is the cause of the harm to his own reputation and not M-Net the court was told.
“He (Cliff) destroyed his own reputation. His own conduct led to his damaged reputation and one cannot expect M-Net to be left with the burden of its repair.”
M-Net could decide who the judges would be and they had decided that Cliff would not be one of them, Trengove said.
Cliff was dropped as judge after he tweeted a response to Penny Sparrow, an estate agent who caused a stir on social media when she called black people monkeys.
Cliff said he tweeted to defend her right to freedom of speech, but that this did not mean he was a racist.