Music producer Naughty Boy has said that Zayn Malik is in a "great place" since leaving One Direction. Speaking during an appearance on Celebrity Juice, the 30-year-old called Zayn "one of my best friends" before discussing his recent Twitter row with Louis Tomlinson.
"Zayn's in a great place," the music producer told Keith Lemon, adding: "Zayn left for his own personal reasons and one day people will know everything, right now's not the time."
Comedian Keith then mentioned Naughty Boy's recent spat with Zayn's former bandmate Louis, leading the producer to say that the backlash he had received from One Direction fans was "relentless".
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Naughty Boy said Zayn Malik is in a "great place"
Naughty Boy – real name Shahid Khan – defended himself, saying that Zayn is "one of my best friends". However he was surprised to hear that fellow guest Jimmy Bullard is close friends with Louis.
"Don't do that," he exclaimed as Jimmy pulled out his phone to ring the singer.
As the drama unfolded, Naughty Boy defended his actions by saying the messages to Louis were just "banter".
"I don't know the guy," he said. "He doesn't know me, it's just the music business, we're not saving lives, come on, let's get real."
Naughty Boy urged Jimmy Bullard not to call Louis Tomlinson
He continued: "I've got no problem with him, I've got no problem with anyone really. It's just banter."
Naughty Boy angered One Direction fans with the row at the beginning of May, when he tweeted a filtered picture of himself and Zayn together in the studio, writing: "Replace this".
Though he didn't mention the post specifically, fans drew their own conclusions when Louis posted a tweet saying: "Remember when you were 12 and you used to think those Mac filters for your pictures were cool haha! Some people still do HA!"
Naughty Boy replied: "and some people can't even sing… but who's complaining when there's auto tune eh."
It is not the first time the producer has felt the wrath of One Direction fans. He tweeted, and subsequently deleted, a demo of Zayn's solo music in March after being accused of stirring up trouble with fans who were still upset about Zayn's decision to leave the band.
Find out what happens on Celebrity Juice at 10pm Thursday on ITV2.