Simon Cowell says he’s very upset about having to drop Shirlena Johnson from The X Factor.

TV bosses decided the mother-of-one, who performed a bizarre rendition of Duffy’s song Mercy, would not continue on the show in the interests of her welfare.

X Factor creator Simon told The Sun: “I’m devastated. It’s heartbreaking. Shirlena desperately wanted to do this to make a better life for herself and her daughter. I feel she may now struggle to do that.

“I really feel for her. I’m very upset and disappointed. The advice I’m given is that she can’t do the show. But there’s another argument that we’re depriving her of the chance to make some money. Even if she didn’t win, she could have picked up money for personal appearances. On the other hand, if we don’t take the advice we’re irresponsible.”

Shirlena also reportedy hit out at the decision. Speaking to the Daily Star, the singing hopeful insisted she was ‘not mentally ill’ and that being kicked off the X Factor was ‘a complete catastrophe’.

She said: “This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.”

A spokesman for The X Factor said: “The welfare of contestants is of paramount importance, and for this reason, it has been agreed that Shirlena Johnson should not continue in the competition.”

Show bosses are now expected to decide whether to show her last performance, which was recorded at the boot camp stage.