X Factor contestants Cher Lloyd and Zain Malik from the boy band One Direction are having a secret romance, according to the papers.

The News Of The World reports that the pair have tried to keep their increasing closeness under wraps after Simon Cowell slapped a ban on relationships between contestants this year.

However a source told the paper, “Cher and Zain are very much an item. They’re completely into each other. Cher goes for bad boys and Zain very much fits the bill.

“Neither of them are your typical X Factor contestant,” the insider added. “They’re not prepared to change their image or compromise who they are. They’re both pretty cool kids and there was an instant attraction between the two of them.”

The pair reportedly bonded after they both made the finals of the show, but things reached a head last weekend when they are alleged to have kissed during a party in the house.

And despite Simon’s rules, the he is reported to have turned a blind eye to the pair’s behaviour.

“There were some relationships in the last two years and he felt they were distracting to the contestants,” the source said. “Right now they should focus on singing and winning the competition.

“But they’re teenagers and hormones are running wild, so as long as it’s only a cheeky snog he’ll turn a blind eye.

“He hasn’t mentioned anything about it to Zain and won’t as long as One Direction’s performance in the competition isn’t hindered.”

Both One Direction and Cher fared well in Saturday night’s Halloween special.

One Direction adopted a vampiric look to sing Total Eclipse Of The Heart while Simon told Cher her rendition of Shakespear’s Sister’s Stay was “the performance of the entire season”.