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Liam Payne 'asked X Factor stylist to sit on his lap when he was just 17'


Liam Payne reportedly asked an X Factor stylist to sit on his lap when he was just 17 and competing on the show.

Grace Woodward, who worked as the fashion director on the ITV show in 2010, claimed the One Direction star began paying more attention to her when she was linked to contestant Matt Cardle.

Speaking to The Sun, Grace also hit out at the show’s ‘dark misogyny,’ detailing how the programme’s female stars struggled under the pressure of their heightened fame on the series.

Accusations: Liam Payne reportedly asked an X Factor stylist to sit on his lap when he was just 17 and competing on the show

Accusations: Liam Payne reportedly asked an X Factor stylist to sit on his lap when he was just 17 and competing on the show

Grace said: ‘When he asked me to sit on his lap it was light-hearted. But how many ordinary 17-year-olds would ask that of someone working with them in a professional capacity? But no one said a word.

‘To me it was always evident that the One Direction boys were treated differently. They were set apart from the rest from the start.

‘Unlike the other acts, who shared the styling team, they always had the same stylist. And the show clothes all had to be obsessively pre-approved.’ 

Reports: Grace Woodward, who worked as the fashion director on the show in 2010, claimed Liam began paying more attention to her when she was linked to contestant Matt Cardle

Reports: Grace Woodward, who worked as the fashion director on the show in 2010, claimed Liam began paying more attention to her when she was linked to contestant Matt Cardle

'No one said a word': Grace said: 'When he asked me to sit on his lap it was light-hearted. But how many ordinary 17-year-olds would ask that of someone working with them'

‘No one said a word’: Grace said: ‘When he asked me to sit on his lap it was light-hearted. But how many ordinary 17-year-olds would ask that of someone working with them’

The 2010 series of X Factor saw the creation of One Direction with whom Liam performed alongside Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan.

The band went on hiatus in 2015, just months after Zayn quit the group.  

An X Factor spokesman told MailOnline: ‘These allegations are unsubstantiated, dating back 12 years on a show that is no longer in production or on television. 

‘The wellbeing of everyone involved in any of our programming is paramount and we have thorough and robust duty of care protocols in place to provide support for anyone who may need it including psychologists on hand to provide expert opinion. 

‘If we are made aware of any concerns, we treat the issue seriously and investigate immediately.’

MailOnline contacted representatives for ITV, Simon Cowell and Syco, Dannii Minogue, Cheryl, Liam Payne, Cher Lloyd, Katie Waissel, and Matt Cardle for comment. 

Speaking out: Grace has claimed that 'dark misogyny' was rife behind the scenes with female stars struggling to cope with the pressures of fame

Speaking out: Grace has claimed that ‘dark misogyny’ was rife behind the scenes with female stars struggling to cope with the pressures of fame

Earlier this month, it emerged show boss Simon Cowell and his entertainment company Syco were hit with legal claims by former contestants who insist they did not have proper care during the series. 

Grace also previously told how the programme’s female stars struggled under the pressure while male contestants felt they were untouchable. 

She went on to allege Cher, then 16, was so stressed during a costume fitting that she waved a pair of scissors at a colleague before going on stage to perform as planned later that day. 

She added of the scissor incident that there was no protocol in place for such occurrences, with no one on hand to talk to Cher or offer her support. 

Claims: Earlier this month, it emerged show boss Simon Cowell (right) and his company Syco were hit with legal claims by former contestants who insist they did not have proper care (Simon pictured with judges Dannii Minogue, Louis Walsh and Cheryl in 2010)

Claims: Earlier this month, it emerged show boss Simon Cowell (right) and his company Syco were hit with legal claims by former contestants who insist they did not have proper care (Simon pictured with judges Dannii Minogue, Louis Walsh and Cheryl in 2010)

Famous faces: Grace worked as the fashion director on the ITV show in 2010, when the likes of Cher Lloyd competed

Katie Waissel also appeared

Famous faces: Grace worked as the fashion director on the ITV show in 2010, when the likes of Cher Lloyd (left) and Katie Waissel (right) competed

Contender: Rebecca Ferguson, who finished second in the 2010 series, recently called out for the government to look into care for young artists entering the music industry

Contender: Rebecca Ferguson, who finished second in the 2010 series, recently called out for the government to look into care for young artists entering the music industry

Meanwhile, Katie, who already had a record deal when she was given the chance to audition for The X Factor, battled feelings of abandonment and as if she’d been let down.

‘During one show she told Simon, ‘This isn’t what I planned,’ and I thought that said it all,’ said Grace. 

Grace said the contestants had no mentors as that year’s judges – Simon Cowell, Dannii Minogue, Cheryl Cole and Louis Walsh – only spent time with them when the cameras were on, with the contestants spending the rest of the time with show runners.

Champion: Matt Cardle triumphed on the 2010 series as 17.2million viewers tuned in for the final results show

Champion: Matt Cardle triumphed on the 2010 series as 17.2million viewers tuned in for the final results show

Grace described the backstage atmosphere as a ‘circus’, with the former X Factor worker saying it was ‘mayhem’ and ‘deliberately so’ in order to create drama.

The stylist claimed judges Cheryl and Dannii were left in tears as they struggled with the pressure during the 2010 series, with Simon pitting the two female judges against each other.

Grace said she even had a spat with Cheryl when they argued over one of Rebecca’s costumes, with Grace describing Cheryl as ‘vulnerable’ and ‘volatile’ during her time on the series but added: ‘You could see that underneath it there was a real sensitivity.’ 

Fashionista Grace enjoyed a romance with 2010 winner Matt after he spent a night at her London apartment after he showed up nearby.

And she claims she has no idea how it became public knowledge, even previously wondering if the situation was set up.

One Direction: Grace claimed Liam Payne (left), then 17, asked her to sit on his lap backstage in 2010 (Liam pictured with bandmates Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik)

One Direction: Grace claimed Liam Payne (left), then 17, asked her to sit on his lap backstage in 2010 (Liam pictured with bandmates Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik)

She said she felt as if she was ‘shamed’ on a daily basis after the fling, with Simon telling her ‘you’ve changed’ while other executives told her ‘this stops now’, adding that the attitude with Matt was that ‘boys will be boys’. 

She said the One Direction boys were not as vulnerable as the other teenagers on the show because they were given special treatment.

Grace claimed they were given their own dressing rooms as soon as they became available and had the same stylist each week when the rest of the contestants had to work with the same team.

The fashion director was asked to return to the show for the 2011 series and she accepted the offer on the condition they would increase her pay.

Romance: Grace said she and eventual winner Matt (centre) had a brief romance after he stayed at her apartment after she bumped into him nearby

Romance: Grace said she and eventual winner Matt (centre) had a brief romance after he stayed at her apartment after she bumped into him nearby

However, bosses declined and she said the resulting claims she was fired damaged her reputation and ended her career.

She went to appear on one more series of Britain’s Next Top Model but she said she felt traumatised by her X Factor experience for 10 years, saying ‘my shame nearly destroyed me’.  

Last year, former X Factor stars Jedward and Katie reacted to news that the show was axed after 17 years with glee. 

Struggles: Grace said she was traumatised as a result of her experiences on The X Factor and her career ended when it was claimed she was sacked despite her being offered a role on the 2011 series

Struggles: Grace said she was traumatised as a result of her experiences on The X Factor and her career ended when it was claimed she was sacked despite her being offered a role on the 2011 series

Simon pulled the plug on the ITV talent show – which launched in 2004 and last aired in 2018 – because he didn’t want the programme to ‘become a bit of a joke’.

Hot on the heels of the news, Irish twins Jedward, who shot to fame on the show in 2008, wrote on social media: ‘Xfactor has been axed Mission Complete’, while Katie, who appeared in 2010, shared the MailOnline’s news alert and wrote: ‘Journey for justice.’

Katie claimed last year she was sexually assaulted by somebody on the X Factor team, years after appearing on the show while Jedward have been open in their criticism of the show and its treatment of stars.

Surprise success: Irish twins Jedward, who shot to fame on the show in 2008, were delighted last year when it was announced The X Factor had been axed in the UK

Surprise success: Irish twins Jedward, who shot to fame on the show in 2008, were delighted last year when it was announced The X Factor had been axed in the UK

And 2010 X Factor star Rebecca called for an urgent parliamentary inquiry to help protect young and emerging artists and an independent tribunal to hold those responsible for poor treatment within the industry to account.

Discussing her alleged assault, Katie said the incident happened in the US when she met the person to talk about recording work.  

The singer said if she could change the past, she would never have appeared on the singing contest. 

A spokesperson for Syco Entertainment said at the time: ‘We were made aware via the media of Katie’s claims in Autumn 2017 and we immediately contacted her and began an investigation. 

‘We were naturally shocked at the allegations and wanted to do anything we could to help – so we asked her to lodge a complaint with us and detail the allegations for that purpose. In the interim we suspended the accused. 

Happy: Katie Waissel shared the MailOnline's news alert and wrote: 'Journey for justice' after learning of the news at the time

Happy: Katie Waissel shared the MailOnline’s news alert and wrote: ‘Journey for justice’ after learning of the news at the time

‘Despite a number of requests to Katie asking her to detail the claims to us, she chose not to make a complaint over his behaviour. As a result, and without other evidence to the contrary, we were obliged to accept his denial of the claims.  

‘We, of course, remain ready and keen to investigate her claims if she so chooses to detail them to us and even though the alleged perpetrator no longer works for either Syco or Sony Music.’ 

Following on from Katie and Jedward’s messages, Jack Remmington, who was a wildcard act in 2017 with his pal Joel Fisher, also took to Twitter to share a sarcastic message about his time on the show and Simon’s behaviour. 

He penned: ‘So sad The X Factor has officially ended. Had such a wonderful & supportive journey on that show…

‘My favourite moment was when Simon, my mentor, told us when we were kicked out the live shows that ‘it was such a shame as he was just starting to like us’. Such a nice man xx…  

Shock: Following on from Katie and Jedward's messages, Jack Remmington, who was a wildcard act in 2017 with his pal Joel Fisher, also took to Twitter to share a sarcastic message about his time on the show and Simon's behaviour  (Jack and Joel, pictured on the show)

Shock: Following on from Katie and Jedward’s messages, Jack Remmington, who was a wildcard act in 2017 with his pal Joel Fisher, also took to Twitter to share a sarcastic message about his time on the show and Simon’s behaviour  (Jack and Joel, pictured on the show)

Shock: Jack shared the story with his 63.1k followers, four years after his appearance

Shock: Jack shared the story with his 63.1k followers, four years after his appearance 

On the rise and fall: The X Factor ratings saw a dramatic rise and fall, with the show enjoying dizzying success and over 14million viewers on average in 2010

On the rise and fall: The X Factor ratings saw a dramatic rise and fall, with the show enjoying dizzying success and over 14million viewers on average in 2010

‘This was literally whilst the cameras were rolling as well, Dermot was still rounding off the show and Si dropped that bomb on us whilst we were still standing on stage so just had to smile and laugh like he’d told some shite joke haahah… 

‘Just to reiterate – we had been at our audition, bootcamp, judges’ houses and weeks of live shows, spanning months over the year under his ‘mentorship’. To then be told this as our journey ended’.

Fleur East, star of 2015’s 12th series, spoke on Hits Radio Breakfast show, where she said: ‘Do you know what, I believe that this is the right thing to do…  

‘I feel like you miss something when it’s been away for a while, you know. It was getting a bit much, and now I think after 5 years we’ll have an appetite for it, you know. You need something to go away to miss it.’

While around the world the format is still successful, it seems Simon has accepted in the UK ‘it has become slightly stale’ and so has reportedly decided to ‘shelve it’ for five years, but sources are claiming it’s now ‘unlikely’ to ever return.

A show insider told The Sun last year: ‘Globally, it is still a phenomenon and rakes in millions every year. But in the UK, there is no question it has become slightly stale.  

‘Simon remains at the top of his game and knows how to make a hit. He owns the rights to the show, and it’s his call — not ITV’s — whether or not he drops it. 

‘Clearly the last thing he wants is for X Factor to fizzle out with a whimper and become a bit of a joke — especially in contrast to the show in its pomp.’ 

Work it! Fleur East, star of 2015's 12th series, spoke on Hits Radio Breakfast show, where she said: 'Do you know what, I believe that this is the right thing to do'

Work it! Fleur East, star of 2015’s 12th series, spoke on Hits Radio Breakfast show, where she said: ‘Do you know what, I believe that this is the right thing to do’

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