Cheryl Cole was reportedly told not to put Gamu Nhengu through to the 'X Factor' finals because of visa worries.
The Zimbabwe-born singer - who failed to be selected by mentor Cole for her final three, despite delivering a flawless performance - is said to be awaiting a renewal of her visa, and ITV1 bosses fear if it is refused, the entire series could be plunged into chaos.
Despite facing a barrage of criticism from angry fans who were rooting for the 18-year-old hopeful, Cole reportedly had little say in the matter.
An insider explained: "Cheryl didn't have much of a say in the matter. It was made clear that Gamu shouldn't be put through because they had issues with her, including her visa.
"A lot of people on the show think it's all really unfair that Cheryl is taking all the flak as it was a group decision and she was just following orders."
'X Factor' viewers have since bombarded ITV with more than 500 official complaints at the 27-year-old judge's decision to put through 24-year-old Katie Waissel and 17-year-old Cher Lloyd - despite them fluffing their performances.
A further 132,815 fans have signed up to a Facebook campaign to have Gamu reinstated on the show.
According to the insider, Cole's close friend will.i.am was instrumental in selecting Katie and Cher - as well as 24-year-old Rebecca Ferguson - to go through to the next stage.
They said: "will.i.am was a big factor in putting Cher and Katie through over other girls like Treyc Cohen and Keri Arrindell. He felt they were both potential stars."
However, ITV1 has been criticised for allowing Gamu to get so far in the competition when there were existing doubts over her visa.
The source added to The Mirror newspaper: "It's ridiculous the situation has got this far. It should have been knocked on the head much earlier on. Gamu should never have been put through to the judges' houses with question marks surrounding her visa.
"Everyone on the show has themselves to blame for not being straight from the beginning."