Robbie Williams gave X Factor contestant Anthony Russell a "dire warning" after his performance on the final tonight.
This comes after X Factor bosses were believed to have been considering kicking Russell off the show days before the final because his links to convicted killer pal Michael Sands.
Sands had been jailed for battering defenceless 18-year-old Neil Murphy in Liverpool in 2010. The victim suffered brain damage after being punched and kicked in the head in an attack the trial judge described as “without mercy”. He died days later.
Following his performance on the show today, Robbie praised his "absolutely amazing" performance.
"This show was made for people like you," Robbie continued. "If there was a stick of X Factor rock it would have ‘Anthony Russell’ all the way through it."
But he added: "Now listen, what you’ve got to do now is to stay on the path of the righteous. The world is opening up to you Anthony and you’ve got to be there to greet it.
"I believe in you, we believe in you and the country believes in you."
Last week the Mirror alerted ITV bosses to a picture of laughing Anthony larking around with brutal killer Sands in a photo where he marks their long friendship by posting: “Nice day with the fellas my man Mike day oner!!!!”.
A source said: “Producers weren’t aware of this at all and only found out today. They are absolutely furious with Anthony for not telling them about this.
“He has put his whole career at risk, not just this weekend at the X Factor final but if he wants a future career in showbiz, by going back to Liverpool and posing with this man.
“He was hanging around with someone guilty of a horrendous crime. It’s deplorable behaviour.
“Granted Sands is one of his oldest friends. They have known each other since he was eight. But it looks terrible and producers, including Simon, are furious the show’s reputation has been put at risk. Anthony has been severely reprimanded and told that hanging out with ex-convicts like this man is inappropriate.
*The X Factors returns tomorrow at 7.30pm on ITV
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