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'X Factor' judge accused of cheating

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X Factor judge Louis Walsh was forced to axe a band from the show, after it emerged that he used to be their manager, The Mirror reports today.

Three members of the group, Co-Ed, who auditioned for X Factor, were originally part of a band called Six, who won Irish Popstars three years ago, and were signed up by Walsh.

An insider told the newspaper, "Louis picked the name Co-Ed and told them what songs to learn for their audition. They had to be seen auditioning like everyone else.

"The plan was for them to breeze through the audition, bootcamp and final selection stages so they would be part of the live TV vote in October.

"The producers were furious. Simon also agreed it would be stupid to continue. So, under pressure, Louis axed them."

An ITV spokesperson said, "Louis has made no secret of the fact he knew them from Six. But he categorically denies he offered them a place in the final.

"There is absolutely no manipulation. We have such a broad range of contestants we don't need to make good television - the pictures tell the story."

The newspaper also reveals that video footage leaked onto the internet shows judges Simon Cowell and Sharon Osbourne encouraging contestants to stand up for themselves while on camera.

The show begins tonight at 7.35pm on ITV1.

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