Simon Cowell has said that Jules O'Dwyer, the dog trainer who won this year's Britain's Got Talent contest, will not be stripped of her title and will keep her £250,000 prize money. Jules and the ITV show came under fire earlier this week when it was revealed that the winner had used a stunt dog double in her act.
During the Sunday night final, Jules and her collie Matisse were crowned the winners of the competition. The following morning Jules admitted on national TV that a lookalike collie Chase had actually performed the tight-rope walking stunt, and not Matisse, leaving viewers to feel they had been tricked.
Speaking after more than 500 complaints were filed, head judge Simon admitted that some wrongdoing had been done, but that Jules should not be blamed.
Simon Cowell admitted he felt like "a bit of an idiot" after the controversy
"The moment I found out I literally put my head in my hands," Simon told The Mirror. "I spoke to a lot of people after, and I did raise my voice. But it was mainly people owning up to it. They felt embarrassed, they felt frustrated, they felt stupid, but you've got to man up to this stuff."
Simon had calls with producers, some of whom were "in tears" and others who were "just mad at themselves".
"They didn't think about how it would appear," said the music mogul. "I was frustrated because I didn't really know what I was judging until afterwards so I felt like a bit of an idiot."
"There's a cloud over her and I want that cloud to go," said Simon of winner Jules O'Dwyer
Simon – who admitted that Chase should have come out onto the stage at the end of the act to make it clear for viewers – also spent an hour on the phone to a "really upset" Jules.
"I feel that I let her down and that the show let her down," said Simon. "She shouldn't have to be in this position because she didn't do anything wrong. But I hopefully reassured her she should put on a very good show for the Queen.
"There's a cloud over her and I want that cloud to go. I want people to feel proud of her and that she did well and she should be happy."