One Direction star Zayn Malik said he has been angered by a US TV host’s suggestion that drug use could have been a factor in the singer’s absence from promotional commitments.

His four bandmates – in the US to plug new album Four – were asked by presenter Matt Lauer on The Today Show about “rumours of substance abuse”.

The remark got a frosty reception from the other members of the group during yesterday’s live interview and caused a furore among the group’s fans, who appeared outraged that the host could ask such a question.

Malik – who had managed to make it to the studio on Saturday to record the Band Aid 30 single – later said he had been “ill”.

He told the Sun: “I’m really angry and upset by what was said on The Today Show. I was really ill at the weekend, that’s why I couldn’t fly to America.”

Earlier this year, the singer was seen in a leaked video smoking what appeared to be a joint while the group travelled in a van in South America. His bandmate, Louis Tomlinson, narrated, saying: “So here we are leaving Peru. Joint lit. Happy days.”

The band – one of the world’s biggest selling acts – consulted lawyers after the video emerged.

During the TV interview, Lauer asked the other four: “There have been rumours of substance abuse, what’s going on?”

Liam Payne defended Malik, saying: “No, he’s just got a stomach bug, he’s OK. He’s just at home. He just needs to rest.”

Malik – who is engaged to Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards – told the Sun he planned to rejoin the group “as soon as I’m feeling better” and said he was “gutted” he could not be with them.

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