Simon Cowell: Tulisa will return for The X Factor 2012

Show boss says sex tape scandal is "not her fault"

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X Factor boss Simon Cowell has strongly defended Tulisa Contostavlos following her sex tape scandal, saying the embarrassment she has suffered this week is “not her fault” and vowing to rehire her as a judge on this year’s show.

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“She didn’t do anything illegal,” said Cowell of the online clip, which features Contostavlos in an intimate moment with her former boyfriend, Justin Edwards. “You are allowed to do this stuff in your bedroom, but you don’t want the tape to come out. She hasn’t got to apologise about anything. People do do that stuff in bedrooms. I feel very bad for her.”

Of the person who leaked the sex tape – Edwards denies releasing it on the internet – Cowell said: “Whoever he is, he’s a scumbag. It’s disgusting, repulsive. He’s embarrassed her and he’s got no right to put her in this position. He should literally find a hole and hide in it for the next week.”

Speaking at the launch of this year’s Britain’s Got Talent, Cowell said he was “100 per cent” sure that the scandal would not affect Tulisa’s return to the X Factor judging panel. “If I said no to that, do you know what it is? It’s allowing every sleazebag in the country to wreck somebody’s career, when she didn’t do something wrong.”

He added: “The public are very forgiving and understanding. But I hope they don’t forgive the person who did it.”

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Cowell indicated that he expected all four of last year’s X Factor judges — Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland, Contostavlos and Louis Walsh — to return in 2012.