Louis Walsh has revealed he had a role in covering up the sexuality of late Boyzone singer Stephen Gately.
Gately enjoyed success in the 1990s with the boyband, but was forced to come out in gay in 1999 after The Sun newspaper printed a story about him.
The singer tied the knot to partner Andrew Cowles in 2003, but died of a congenital heart defect aged just 33, in 2009.
Speaking to Radio 2’s Paper Cuts series, former Boyzone manager Louis Walsh admitted that he had helped Gately stay in the closet for as long as he did.
He explained: “I knew they needed stories and I helped them with the stories… sometimes I made up the stories.”
Host Kate Thornton recalled: “I remember getting a phone call from you when I was the editor of Smash Hits and you phoned me up and said ‘is it OK if I tell the Daily Star that you’re going out with Stephen Gately because he’s gay?’.
Walsh said: “That is true, I married Stephen Gately off to so many people, because Stephen didn’t want anyone to know he was gay at the start.”
Thornton said that she refused to be part of the story, adding: “The next day I opened the papers and you had him with Mariah Carey – you could have gone with something more plausible!”
The X Factor judge quipped: “Well, he loved Mariah Carey! Mariah and Celine Dion were Stephen’s idols.”
He continued: “Stephen was a great person, he was great fun, and he was grateful for everything I ever did for him, which is a rare thing. We create monsters and then they bite our heads off!”
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Walsh added: “He was dreading all of his life that this was going to ruin his career.
“He was dreading he was going to be outed and he was in the end by The Sun, but it didn’t matter.
“In fact it was the best thing for him, he was free then, he’d nothing to hide.”
Justifying the conspiracy, he said: “At that time it wasn’t cool to be gay and be in a boyband, because the girls had to like him.
“We didn’t know [what the reaction would be], it was new territory for everybody. When it came out it was the best thing ever, because nobody cared.
“The girls still loved him, and he was still the most popular person in Boyzone by a mile.
“He was a brilliant kid to work with… all he wanted to do was be in a boyband. He was happy.”
The music mogul added that they resolved on being honest after The Sun confimed it would be publishing its story.