Reports have emerged that Sam Bailey was ‘mentored’ by PR guru Max Clifford two years before her X Factor win.

According to the Mail the Skyscraper singer was spotted by Clifford two years ago performing at a Costwolds pub – and subsequently went on to perform at his 70th birthday party in April.

The paper has also suggested that he persuaded Simon Cowell to let her audition for the series – but despite admitting her voice ‘bowled me over’ Clifford has denied having any influence on her success.

“All I did was open a few doors for her and talk to several influential people,” he explained.

“The rest was up to her, and now she’s big-time. But her success is really all down to her and her alone.”

A spokesperson for Simon Cowell’s company Syco described Sam as ‘the emphatic winner of The X Factor” and suggested claims that Clifford may have helped her to win were ‘ridiculous’.

The 36-year-old – who soared to number one in the Christmas charts with Skyscraper last weekend – was previously rejected by Simon Cowell 17 years ago when she was in a ska band.

The act, Girls Next Door – a duo consisting of Sam and her friend Julie Nunney – were reportedly turned down by the mogul due to their lack of celebrity status.