GONEWAY SISTERS; Girls wanted to walk out after row with mentor Cowell.
A STAR of one of Simon Cowell's own acts threatened to walk out on Saturday night's live X Factor after a furious row with him.
The Conway Sisters were devastated because the notoriously forthright Cowell criticised their performance of Barry Manilow classic One Voice.
When the ITV1 show went off air before the results programme, angry Laura Conway turned on Cowell, 46, as her three heartbroken sisters wept.
She attacked him for failing to stand up for them and accused him of favouring rival band Journey South.
Blonde Laura, 18, the youngest of the Irish girls, then threatened to walk out and told him she was not coming back for the results - when the sisters got enough votes to go through to next week.
A TV insider revealed: "The Conway Sisters could not believe that Simon had criticised them for the second week running.
"They were convinced they were going home and Laura was so angry. She waited until the show had finished and gave Simon a right ear bashing for not defending them, ranting that he obviously prefers Journey South.
"Eventually she calmed down and was persuaded back into the studio."
Cowell had told the girls that some of their performance was off-key.
He said: "Parts worked, parts didn't."
Marie Conway then snapped: "We're working with the songs we're given."
In the previous show, Cowell had told them their rendition of Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart "fell apart in the middle", adding: "I just pray the audience give you another chance." Cowell yesterday defended his comments and insisted he didn't like upsetting the girls.
He told the Mirror: "I'm there as a mentor to help them, not to lie to them.
"The artists might believe it is my job to defend them but at the same time, I have to judge them as if they were one of the other judges' acts.
"I don't believe I made a mistake with the choice of song. I said it as I heard it, that parts were very, very good but there were a few tuning problems. Overall, I thought it worked. It's hardly decimating them.."
He went on: "I didn't like it that the girls were upset. They were furious with me and it took me a while to calm them down. Laura nearly apologised afterwards. Artists always believe other acts are getting favouritism but I like the girls and I'm doing my best for them."
Meanwhile he revealed that Girls Aloud star Cheryl Tweedy had sent him a text insisting the band hadn't slagged off X Factor. Cowell urged their manager and rival judge Louis Walsh to get them on next week's show for a live sing-off after reading they had criticised the quality of the contestants.
Asked if Girls Aloud would be appearing next week, Cowell replied: "I don't know yet. We'll have to see."
Chenai Zinyuku was sent home on Saturday night after her mentor Walsh was forced to choose between her and Nicholas Dorsett. The Bradford-born 17-year-old clashed with Brenda Edwards just days earlier after claiming the older woman had more experience.
The insider added: "Everyone thinks Chenai was ready to go home - she spent most of last week crying on the phone to her mum.
"The other contestants weren't unhappy to see her go."
All of Sharon Osbourne's four acts still remain in the contest.
Kerber and Black: Page 6
FIRING LINE: Sisters were upset when Cowell, far right in judging panel, rapped their act