X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger has come to the defence of James Arthur after he was embroiled in controversy surrounding the use of homophobic slurs in a rap diss.

X Factor winner Arthur late last month left Twitter following criticism for using homophobic language against another artist in a “rap feud”. He handed over control of his Twitter account to managers.

In Arthur’s rap at Micky Worthless, he said: “You f***ing queer. Hilarious, precarious you Talibani confused, imbellic mimic of a gimmick.” He was criticised by comedians Matt Lucas and Frankie Boyle for the lyrics.

“I’m just there for him,” the former Pussycat Doll said, “I don’t read the press, I know who he is as a person, I know his heart. “I’m just there to support him.”

Scherzinger acted as Arthur’s mentor during his time on the X Factor, and said she did not take the time to read criticisms of him.

“He’s unbelievably talented and he’s worked so hard on his album. In the end I know that the cream will always rise to the top.”

Arthur also found himself amid a new Twitter drama, as fellow X Factor contestant  Spraggan last week tweeted a text conversation between the two containing a heated disagreement over his use of the word “queer”. She later clarified to say she did not think he was a homophobe.

The Sun reporeted that Arthur was seeking professional help after the uproar, and that he attributes his state of mind when making the comments to the death of his grandmother.

Previously it emerged that a petition to have Arthur removed from a performance on the X Factor this Sunday, which has now gathered over 11,000 signatures.

The page administrators clarified their position, saying: “Just to remind everyone, WE ARE NOT A HATE PAGE. We are simply campaigning to get someone dropped by X Factor who has a history of hate speech and derogatory language.

“We do not feel James Arthur deserves a place on TV following his homophobia in his music and on social media.”

Controversy surrounding James Arthur’s Twitter spats around his use of homophobic lyrics on a track already escalated as iTunes last week approved a refund to a customer who complained that they were offended by the lyrics.

Singer Olly Murs also defended James Arthur, saying he gave him the “benefit of the doubt”, because he is a “talented lad”, and has apologised.