Tamera Foster and Lorna Simpson are among "The X Factor" U.K. contestants of 2013 whose shady pasts have been uncovered by British tabloids. Both singers reached the Top 12 of the show this year. Simpson was eliminated on Oct. 13, 2013. In an article dated Oct. 19, 2013, the Daily Mirror reported that Foster (who is 16) was caught shoplifting just one month after her first "X Factor" audition, but she was not arrested and was she let go with a warning after she agreed to pay for the merchandise that she stole.
Here's a summary of the checkered pasts of some of "The X Factor" U.K. contestants who made it to the Top 12 in 2013:
Foster first made tabloid headlines in early September 2013, when the Sunday Mirror exposed her Twitter comments from 2012 in which she essentially said she was smoking marijuana and PCP at the time. She made a public apology in the Mirror for her drug statements: “I’m upset and ashamed. I never meant to encourage or endorse the use of drugs. It’s no excuse, but this was months ago. I’ve done a lot of growing up and I still have time to grow. I don’t want to be judged on my past – it’s what I’m doing now that really matters.”
The Daily Mail and other tabloids then reported in September 2013 that Foster was involved in an assault on 16-year-old Holly Wilks in Gravesend, Kent, England, on Dec. 26, 2012. According to the Daily Mail, Foster told told Wilks: "Kiss my shoes or I will beat you up." Then, after one of Foster's friends pushed Wilks to the ground, Foster kicked and punched Wilks, leaving her with bruising on her legs and back. After a police investigation Tamera was cautioned for assault.
In an interview with The Sun, Foster admitted to the crime and said, "If I saw Holly, I would apologize and make it clear I am remorseful. I am really sorry for what happened. I lashed out when I shouldn’t have. It was a really stupid move. I do think the marijuana I took could have contributed to my behavior. I was in a bad place when that happened."
And now, the Daily Mirror has reported that Tamera and two other girls were caught stealing makeup at the Boots store in Gravesend on July 24, 2013. Kent Police said Boots allowed “restorative justice,” which gives the store's management the option to not press charges and instead require the suspect to make an apology and pay for the stolen merchandise. Sources confirmed to the Daily Mirror that Foster "agreed to pay the cost of the goods stolen."
An insider confirmed to the Daily Mirror that Foster apologized to "X Factor" producers about the shoplifting, which she initially did not disclose because she hadn't been arrested for it. The source added, “She is really remorseful for what she has done and has said sorry to everyone on the show for letting them down. She is distraught.”
Holly Wilks' father, Tom, had a very different view. He told the Daily Mail: "It’s a complete joke for Tamera to say she’s sorry. She’s never apologized to Holly — why doesn’t she do that? All she did was tell a newspaper she was sorry, probably because The X Factor told her to. Neither Holly or our family have had any personal apology from Tamera or her family — they’ve never been in contact with us.
"Holly and her friend were on a train when they got a message from another so-called friend asking them to meet at Gravesend. When they got off the train, Tamera was there with a group of her friends. I think it was a set-up. Holly said Tamera and another girl were jealous of her new handbag and started making comments about it. One of them grabbed the bag and ran off with it. Holly was asking for them to give it back but Tamera stuck her face in her face."
An unnamed source at "The X Factor" U.K. commented on Foster to the Daily Mirror: “She has really improved since she has been in the 'X Factor' house. We have been truly pleased. She is a really pleasant young lady. We believe she’s turned over a new leaf.”
Simpson, 26, has also had some of her checkered past exposed by the media. In late September 2013, it was revealed by The Sun and other tabloids that Simpson (under the stage name Harmony Gordon) filmed nude, kinky sex scenes with co-star Jeremiah Kirlew in the straight-to-You-Tube movie "Hood Loyalty."
Simpson commented to The Sun: “I’m so ashamed I took part. It wasn’t even lots of money. I just thought it would help my career. We weren’t actually having sex. It was just acting. I didn’t realize it would be explicit, but by the time we came to film the scenes it was too late for me to back out. I wish I’d never done it. I hope people won’t judge me. I really want to be a singer and I’m so grateful Sharon Osbourne has put her faith in me.”
According to The Sun, Simpson was paid only £150 (or $242 in U.S dollars) to be in the movie.
Then in early October 2013, a photo surfaced of Simpson wearing a bikini and toting a gun, along with a tabloid story that she used to be married to a cocaine dealer. In March 2008, Simpson's ex-husband, Errol Gordon (who is now 32), was sentenced to 12 months in jail at Croydon Crown Court and was then deported from the U.K. to his native Jamaica when his visa was not renewed.
Simpson explained to the Daily Mirror: “This picture was taken in Jamaica and is a policeman’s gun. I have never and would never condone violence of any sort and have participated in charity concerts promoting anti gun-crime messages. I was just 18 years old when I met my ex and it was a very troubled relationship. I was young and naïve and he controlled and abused me. I am proud to have escaped him and am hoping that 'X Factor' will give me the opportunity to better my life.”
It's hard to know if this bad publicity played a part in Simpson getting eliminated, but she did end up in the bottom two of vote-getters in the first week that "X Factor" U.K. voting was opened to the public this year.
Kazeem Ajobe of Rough Copy
To a much less scandalous degree, the criminal past of Rough Copy's Kazeem Ajobe, 23, has also made tabloid news. In 2006, he was cautioned for common assault after an incident outside a train station. (Ajobe said the assault happened because someone had threatened his girlfriend and he fought back.) In 2007, he served 250 hours of community service for affray after being involved in a group brawl. In 2010, he was cautioned for marijuana possession.
Because of his criminal record, Ajobe has had visa problems and is not allowed to travel to the United States. Taht visa problem disqualified Rough Copy (an R&B trio) from "The X Factor" U.K. in 2012 when it came time for the group to got to Las Vegas for the "judges' houses" phase of the competition. In 2013, Rough Copy had the same problem when judges' houses performances for the groups were held in New York City, but this time, Ajobe stayed behind, while the other two members of the group (Sterling Ramsey, 25, and Joey Thomas, 27) performed without him.
Because Ajobe disclosed his criminal record to "X Factor" producers when he applied for "The X Factor," he was not disqualified. Ajobe told Metro in an October 2013 interview: "‘I’ve come a long way from my past. I mean, being in a boy band and having a little son, being in a long-term relationship — it just helped. Having my two brothers as well to help me on my journey."
In September 2013, tabloids revealed that Callahan, 19, posed half-naked for online magazine The Gay U.K. in June 2013. He also did an even more revealing nude photo shoot for yhe Gay Times. Some of the photos are of Callahan frolicking naked on the beach, with his entire naked backside showing.
Although posing for nude photos as a consenting adult isn't a crime, some people questioned why Callahan, who says he is straight, would pose nude for magazines and then go on a family show like "The X Factor." However, he is clearly just another example of how so many of these contestants will do anything to be famous.