Willy Moon waves to the cameras as he and wife Natalia Kills flee a storm of controversy in New Zealand.
Willy Moon waves to the cameras as he and wife Natalia Kills flee a storm of controversy in New Zealand.

Despised X-Factor NZ judges flee the country

AXED X-Factor judges Willy Moon and Natalia Kills have fled the country, after being fired for bullying a contestant live on air.

The couple, dressed all in black and wearing sunglasses at night, were photographed being escorted through Auckland International Airport, apparently before they boarded a Los Angeles flight.

The pair smiled and remained silent as they walked past waiting media, with Kills clutching her husband's arm as they were escorted on to their late night plane via a "premium check-in".

Kills, wearing a big floppy hat and with a teddy bear attached to her handbag, had a hint of a smile on her face as she faced the media scrum.

Replacement judges will be announced in the next 48 hours, in a hasty turnaround after the controversial couple were unexpectedly fired from the reality programme.

They hit headlines on Sunday night after they launched a humiliating attack on contestant Joe Irvine. Kills said the 25-year-old had copied her husband "from the hair to the suit" and made her "sick". She also called him a "laughing stock".

Moon then likened Irvine to a creepy killer and said his performance of Cry Me a River was "cheap and absurd".

It is understood the show's sponsors, as well as fellow judges Stan Walker and Melanie Blatt, put extreme pressure on MediaWorks to take action over the incident.

Kills and Moon's departure came hours after the media company announced it would be naming new judges either today or tomorrow.

Andrew Szusterman, the show's co-executive producer, said there had "been an incredible amount of interest from both well-known Kiwi artists and high-profile international acts" to be part of the show.

He also touched on rumours the Sunday night incident had been pre-planned.

"This was not planned. It came as a complete shock, and as we have said and demonstrated by our actions, this type of behaviour is completely unacceptable. The speculation is totally baseless," he said.

The controversy led to a major boost in ratings with more than 438,000 people tuning in to Monday night's live show, up from 256,000 on Sunday night.

The incident, which prompted a large amount of public backlash, hit headlines around the world.

Several high-profile personalities - including league player Benji Marshall and All Black Israel Dagg - publicly condemned the bullying incident.

Lorde and UK singer Ed Sheeran also weighed in.

Lorde sent Invercargill-based Irvine a note and cupcakes in support, while Sheeran tweeted him:

"Don't worry about what anyone else says man. Enjoy yourself with it, that's what singing is about, not what other people think," Sheeran wrote.

Irvine thanked Sheeran and said he wanted to meet him.

Irvine, who made it through Monday night's elimination show, is due back on screens at the end of this week.

X Factor UK judge slams Kills

A judge from the UK version of The X Factor has chimed in on the sacking of Natalia Kills and Willy Moon, calling their criticisms of contestant Joe Irvine "cruel".

In an interview with RTE2fm in Ireland, as reported by Throng.co.nz, X Factor UKjudge Louis Walsh said Kills would "never work again".

"It's cruel, it's not right. These shows are supposed to be fun. People sit back and they want to be entertained, they don't want to hear people taking people to pieces," Walsh said.

"She obviously has no class, no taste, she'll never work again I reckon, honestly. I mean, who's going to hire her? Nobody."


Kills and Moon fans say they're deleting their music

Meanwhile, fans say they're turning their backs on the couple.

Kills fans have taken to Twitter to say they're deleting her music.


Kills stands by what she said

Kills has refused to apologise for the derisive comments she lashed upon Irvine, remaining unrepentant.

Yesterday her spokesperson told Britain's Mirror newspaper: "[Natalia] just speaks from the heart and says what she feels. That's just how she is."

Asked if the British-born singer regrets her tirade, they added: "No. She stands by what she said."

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