Factor Essex talent show boss held in rape inquiry

Thurrock Gazette: Lee Knell with Rylan Clark Lee Knell with Rylan Clark

A TALENT show organiser who helped to launch the career of Stanford-le-Hope X Factor star Rylan Clark has been arrested on suspicion of rape.

Lee Knell, 29, from Basildon, organises the Factor Essex competition and was arrested by police on Monday over the allegations, which date back several weeks.

The Gazette understands Mr Knell has sacked the competition judges and cancelled the final of this year’s competition, which was due to be held in Grays this Sunday, after the accusations came to light.

However, in a statement posted on his Facebook page on Wednesday, Mr Knell said he planned to fight the claims and vowed this weekend’s final would go ahead.

In the statement, he said: “For everyone who has heard the rumours or the malicious and vile accusations made against me, I can assure everyone that they are not true.

“I am just as sickened by the accusations as probably everyone else is, but I will ensure the truth is aired.

“I will not let anyone bring me down, and as stressful as this has been and as weak as I feel right now, I’m a fighter and I will get through this.

“People need to know the truth before making assumptions.

“My duty now is to ensure I stay strong and make sure this final goes ahead on Sunday for the people that have worked so hard over the last couple of months because they deserve it.

“I will not let the accusations of one person destroy my life or the dreams of others.”

X Factor star Rylan Clark competed in the Factor Essex contest in 2010 and joined Mr Knell as a judge for the competition last year.

The Factor Essex competition is now in its fifth year and receives thousands of entries every year from talented youngsters across the county.

This year’s winner was promised £1,000 prize money and a recording contract.

The finalists came together to record a charity single of the Westlife hit Flying Without Wings for the Karis May Darling Foundation.

The charity was set up after Karis, from Corringham, died after contracting a streptococcus A infection, and works to help underprivileged children.

The preliminary rounds of the Factor Essex contest were held at Chicago’s, in the Festival Leisure Park, in Basildon. Sunday’s final was scheduled to be held at the Civic Hall, in Blackshots Lane, Grays. The Echo called the Civic Hall and was told nobody had contacted staff to confirm whether or not the competition would be going ahead. In a statement, Essex Police, said: “A 29-year-old man from Basildon was arrested on the evening of May 13 on suspicion of rape.

“He has been released on police bail until June 14.

“The allegations date back several weeks and the suspect is known to the victim.”

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