'X Factor' contestant pulls out as 'happy slapping' footage emerges

By Ciar Byrne,Arts,Media Correspondent
Saturday 03 November 2007 01:00

A teenage contestant on the ITV1 talent show The X Factor has been forced to withdraw from the contest after footage of her "happy slapping" another young girl was made public. The Sun yesterday published stills from a video taken on a mobile phone, which show 15-year-old Emily Nakanda grabbing a blonde teenager, identified only as Anna, in a headlock, swinging her round by the hair and throwing her to the ground.

In an earlier story, the newspaper alleged Emily, the youngest contestant on The X Factor, had threatened to gouge out a boy's eyes with a knife in another video, in which she referred to herself as "Lady Shiverz".

In a statement, a spokeswoman for The X Factor said: "In response to the stories in the papers this week regarding Emily Nakanda we have conducted our own investigations into the matter and we can confirm that she has chosen to withdraw herself from the competition with immediate effect."

Sharon Osbourne, a judge on the show who had been mentoring Emily, said: "I am deeply saddened by this whole situation."

The Sun reported that the video had been sent to other teenagers living near Nakanda's school and home in North Finchley, north London.

The girl's mother, Louis Friberg, said: "As a family we are heartbroken and are very disappointed with Emily's behaviour. We feel that there is no choice but to withdraw Emily from the competition. Emily and all the family sincerely apologise both to Anna, her school and all the fans that have supported Emily. Emily regrets her actions but there is no way, as a family, we can excuse her behaviour. Emily is very sorry to have let the show, Sharon and the viewers down."

The X Factor spokeswoman said that a new contestant would not be brought in to replace Emily, but added that the show would continue as normal tonight with one contestant being evicted by a combination of the judge's decision and a public phone vote.

Emily's future on the show was in doubt anyway. Last week, the judges criticised her performance of the Britney Spears hit "Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman". Simon Cowell said that her poor performance may have jeopardised her place in the competition.

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