Simon Cowell has defended his boyband One Direction in the wake of the group's smoking scandal, branding them the "hardest working" act in music. Bandmates Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik hit headlines last week (ends01Jun14) when footage of them apparently puffing on a cannabis cigarette in a car in Peru leaked online.
The pop stars have yet to comment on the video, but their mentor Cowell, who put the group together on the 2010 series of Britain's The X Factor, has publicly backed the pair by praising their work ethic. In a red carpet interview on Monday (02Jun14), he said, "I can't really comment on that. What I can say, however... is they are the hardest working boys I've ever worked with, they still haven't changed. They're really respectful to their fans, they're a great British export."
When asked by a reporter what advice he has for the group after the scandal, he added: "You know what, I can't comment on that. It's a private matter... I hope the fans stay loyal." Liam Payne is the only member of the band to have commented on the clip - he took to Twitter.com over the weekend (31May-01Jun14) to apologise to fans, explaining the group has a lot of "growing up" to do.