Simon Cowell speaks out against X Factor semi-final controversy

Viewers accused the show of being fixed after Mary Byrne lost out to Cher Lloyd. The two competed in a sing-off and the judges, not the public vote as usual, were the ones to decide who would be eliminated.

In an interview with the Sun, Cowell insists that the competition is fair.

“We haven’t done anything wrong. All the artists knew there was going to be a sing-off. Mary and Cher were told last Monday to prepare a song for a sing-off if necessary. I genuinely do not know the exact placings of the artists – who is top and who is bottom. I never know those details until the series is finished. There has always been a sing-off when there are five people left in the competition. This is a lot of nonsense about nothing.

I’m always looking for ways to keep the show fresh. We knew we wanted four people in the final this year and I don’t want to be accused of doing the same thing. It’s more exciting and gives more people a chance to win it. That decision was made long ago – five or six weeks ago. It adds to the mystery and audience love the surprise element. We are doing our best to change the format. It’s more exciting to have a sing off.”

Mary Byrne, the contestant who got the boot, has no hard feelings about the elimination as she got herself a record deal.

“When I was leaving the show, Simon came over and said, ‘I’m really sorry that you’ve got to go but you’ve got your album.’ I can’t wait to sit down and start working on it. I’m like a two-year-old, I’m so excited. I was told on Saturday, because we were given our ‘save me’ songs. I got a bit stunned at first because I did think it was just public votes. I do feel sorry for my fans because they voted in their thousands, God bless them. I knew then my days were numbered. I hope I would have stayed in. The public have supported me right the way through, and if they had done it that way, it would have been great – but that didn’t happen,” Mary reveals.

In order to quiet down furious fans, a spokesman for X Factor has said that this weekend’s elimination will be the result of viewers’ vote alone.