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Lewis Whyld/PA Wire Mary Byrne arrives at a London studio to appear on ITV's morning show Daybreak this morning, following her elimination from The X Factor last night.
The X Factor

New rumours of X Factor rigging after Mary Byrne's exit

Britain’s tabloids believe it suspicious that the semi-final include a judges’ vote and sing-off – giving Cher a last-minute reprieve.

BRITAIN’S TABLOID PRESS has accused The X Factor of being ‘fixed’ after a last-minute change to the show’s format resulted in popular Irish songstress Mary Byrne being eliminated in a judges’ vote – giving a lacklustre Cher Lloyd a place in the show’s final.

Byrne lost out to Lloyd after the show – in a deviation from previous years – introduced a judges’ vote for last night’s semi-final, which saw the two singers having to participate in a sing-off after coming in the bottom two spots in the public vote.

Despite Byrne’s arguably superior performance in the final elimination, unaffiliated judges Dannii Minogue and Simon Cowell opted to send Lloyd through to next Saturday’s live finale – eliminating the 51-year-old former Tesco checkout worker from Ballyfermot.

The Daily Mirror reports that the show’s British channel ITV1 was “bombarded” with complaints in the aftermath of the decision, with many having assumed their votes would be a straightforward decider as to who would be eliminated from the show’s final five.

It adds that the decision to introduce a sing-off was made so late that it was not mentioned on the show’s website, which ordinarily outlines the precise mechanisms for a show’s eliminations.

What’s more, the Daily Mail quotes host Dermot O’Leary as telling viewers on the Saturday evening show that “Your votes, and your votes alone, can get your act safely through to the final.”

The apparently last-minute change to the show’s structure has led many to suspect that producers had engineered the result so as to ensure the progress of Cher Lloyd, who they believe would stand a better chance of maintaining a long-term recording career.

Gossip magazine Heat quotes a show spokesperson as saying, however, that “as the show evolves there are always changes in format.”

The Daily Star adds that the official Twitter account of Simon Cowell’s record label SyCo, to which the show’s winners are signed, came under criticism after it retweeted a message seeking votes for Cher, but did not offer a similar boost to other acts.

An estimated 20 million viewers watched last night’s episode, the Star suggests – a record for the lifetime of The X Factor’s seven series to date.