IN an industry where "perceptions are everything", M-Net was entitled to protect its reputation and commercial interests and not keep Gareth Cliff on as an Idols SA judge, said the pay-TV provider in court papers.M-Net made its decision to axe Mr Cliff after he weighed in on the furore over a racist Facebook post by the now infamous estate-agent Penny Sparrow, then himself becoming the subject of controversy and accused of racism.In her post, Ms Sparrow likened black people to monkeys, lamenting their being "allowed loose" onto public beaches because it "invited huge dirt and trouble and discomfort to others".Responding to a Twitter poll on whether Ms Sparrow’s remarks were hate speech or were protected under the Constitution, Mr Cliff tweeted that "people don’t understand free speech at all".Later, responding to an accusation of racism, he said: "This woman is an idiot and a racist, but I believe in freedom of speech."Mr Cliff said that by firing him, M-Net had breached their contr...

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