The father of tormented X Factor contestant Katie Waissel has admitted that vicious internet abuse and tabloid rumours about his daughter have left him and his family “heartbroken”.
Maurice Waissel said it was hard to cope as a parent of a child who is subject to a media hate campaign — and he cannot help but read about it. “She’s been getting these idiotic death threats over the internet. The threats aren’t specific — they just say, ‘we want you to die’.”
Messages on Twitter have included: “Who’s coming on a murder hunt with me? Target Katie Waissel.”
X Factor bosses this week called in the police to investigate the threats.
Mr Waissel said: “We were delighted on Sunday when she got through to the next stage. We finally thought things were going to turn for Katie and then we picked up the papers on Monday and bang! All the negative stuff just hits you again. It’s never-ending and it’s all make-believe.
“It breaks our hearts. People contact us saying they don’t know how we cope with all the hatred. But you just do. We read everything — we can’t help it. We’re searching for the nice stuff.”
Despite rumours of a breakdown and extra counselling, Mr Waissel says his daughter, 24, doesn’t expect special treatment.
“She gets support from everyone on the X Factor, but she would never expect to be treated any differently from anyone.
“She gets on with it. She’s a Waissel warrior. No-one has been in the bottom two four times and survived. She is very strong. Others are petering out, but you definitely haven’t seen the best of Katie yet. She could still win it — wouldn’t that be wonderful? She’s got just as much chance as anybody. And she’s not going to stop now — no way.”
But he says a groundswell of public support is missing.
“We seem to be missing the vote from our community. Everybody knows she’s Jewish and we need to get behind her. I’m telling you this from my heart. She is being kicked while she’s down for no good reason, and we need to stop that. The community should support her, not just because she’s a good singer, but because she’s a fighter.”
Ms Waissel, who said she was “very proud to be a Jewish girl”, is from Harefield and the family own DNK, a fashion boutique on Pinner High Street — which stocks “Team Katie” merchandise.
In the bottom two again last week, Ms Waissel impressed Simon Cowell and mentor Cheryl Cole by singing Christina Aguilera’s Save Me From Myself. Cowell said: “I’m sticking up for Katie — she’s a great girl and a good singer.”
But when judges Louis Walsh and Dannii Minogue chose to eliminate her, deadlock from the judges meant contestant Aiden Grimshaw was sent home, having received the fewest public votes.
The Waissels were sitting with the Grimshaws in the X Factor audience. Mr Waissel said: “Obviously, it’s very hard. We’re all in this together.”