Simon Cowell insists One Direction “love their fans” in the wake of the band’s alleged drug scandal.
Two members of the quintet, Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson, were caught on camera joking about drugs and seemingly smoking a marijuana cigarette in a video published last week, prompting fans and parents to boycott the group.
But Simon, who has helped to propel the boyband to worldwide stardom, is standing by them.
“I’ve worked with a lot of artists who do lose the plot and do lose respect for their fans and forget who took them there, but they’ve never done that,” Simon told UK newspaper The Mirror. "They really do love their fans. They’ve been a joy to work with.”
The TV and music mogul also said Zayn, Louis and their bandmates Harry Styles, Liam Payne and Niall Horan have proven themselves time and time again to be stand-up men.
“They are the hardest working boys I’ve ever worked with. They haven’t changed. They’re great British exports,” he said, although he declined to elaborate on the talks that have happened between them behind closed doors.
“It’s a private matter I don’t want to go into,” he stated, adding, “I hope the fans stay loyal. That’s all I can say.”
One Direction meanwhile is going on with their Where We Are Tour, which took them on April 27 to Peru, where marijuana possession isn’t punishable as long as it is for personal use and is less than eight grams.
In the video in question, posted by MailOnline, Louis and Zayn are seen inside a vehicle on the day they performed at the Estadio Nacional in Lima.
“So here we are, leaving Peru. Joint lit. Happy days!” Louis is reportedly heard saying behind the camera before the pair are heard joking about “Mary J”.
Liam subsequently addressed the scandal involving his bandmates in a series of tweets at the weekend.
“I love my boys and maybe things have gone a little sideways I apologise for that… We are only in our 20's we all do stupid things at this age,” he wrote.
“We all have a lot of growing up to do in an extreme circumstance I’m not making excuse but it’s fact we are gunna fall short somewhere.. Hopefully we stand the test of time an get it right in the end I don’t take this for granted and im extremely grateful to be here doing this,” (sic).