M-Net on Friday night issued a short statement on the massive loss it suffered in court. Judge Caroline Nicholls ruled in favour of Gareth Cliff, ordering the broadcasting giant to reinstate him as a judge on Idols with immediate effect.

Gareth took M-Net to court for unfair dismissal and defamation, saying it had a “knee-jerk” reaction to his comments on the Penny Sparrow race issue.

In court papers lodged, M-Net said market research showed that Gareth was poison to the brand and lawyer for the broadcaster, Wim Trengrove argued that it did not want to be associated with a “poster boy for racism.”

In the brief statement released at 19:30, M-Net it would adhere to the court’s decision.

“As ordered by the South Gauteng High Court, and as a good corporate citizen that respects the rule of law, M-Net will reinstate Mr Cliff as a judge on season 12 of Idols SA. We believe we did the right thing by taking Mr Cliff off the show. We remain committed to using our platforms to contribute to a united South Africa.”

Judge Nicholls said that while M-Net argued that its brand would be affected by Gareth, it was in fact Gareth’s reputation that was tarnished.

“A defamation action in due course or even a declaration of the unconstitutionality of M-Net’s termination of Cliff’s contract will not address the reputational damage that Cliff is suffering at present,” she said.

Cliff is due to hold a press conference on Saturday at 12:00 at his online radio station, CliffCentral, in Johannesburg.