X Factor judge Louis Walsh has defended his decision to force Sunday night's show to an audience vote as "the fairest option".
Country singer Carolynne Poole was booted off after a controversial elimination show saw Walsh appear to back her against Rylan Clark, before changing his mind to back Clark and then forcing the show to the public vote, which Poole lost.
Walsh said: "I was torn. I think Rylan's a great entertainer and Carolynne's a great singer."
Rylan Clark, Dermot O'Leary and Carolynne Poole
He continued: "I couldn't make up my mind. So, finally, I decided that the fairest thing to do was to go to the public vote and Rylan had more votes than Carolynne. It was sad but it was the fairest option."
Take That star Gary Barlow, who was Poole's mentor, was seen walking off the stage after the decision and criticised the judges for keeping Clark in the competition.
Viewers took to Twitter in disgust after the decision using the hashtag #fixfactor and highlighting the presence of show producer Richard Holloway who was seen talking to Walsh before he voted.
Mr Holloway said: "We regularly chat to the judges during the show - they don't wear earpieces like Dermot so we have to speak to them throughout the programme, on anything from timings to running order changes. On Sunday night I was telling Louis the order the judges would vote in and that he would be last.
"We don't tell the judges how to vote and as you saw on the show Louis hadn't - and couldn't - make up his mind so he decided that sending it to the public vote was the fairest thing to do."
An X Factor spokeswoman said: "Carolynne had the least amount of public votes so the public's choice to stay in the show was Rylan.
"Producers always chat to judges during the show."
Read a sample of the outraged reactions about Louis' decision below...
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