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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005, 08:21 GMT 09:21 UK
Fox investigating Idol 'affair'
Paula Abdul
Paula Abdul has denied the claims made by Clark
The US TV network behind American Idol is investigating a former contestant's claims that he was privately coached by celebrity judge Paula Abdul.

Fox TV has set up an independent council to examine allegations by Corey Clark that Abdul trained him while the pair were conducting a secret affair.

However, Fox's Peter Liguori said Abdul was expected to return as a judge for the fifth series of the hit show.

Singer Abdul denies the claims and has called Clark "an admitted liar".

Clark, 25, was ejected from the second series of American Idol, in 2003, for concealing a prior arrest.

He went public with his allegations about Abdul, 43, on ABC's Primetime Live in May this year.

Corey Clark is interviewed by ABC's John Quinones
Corey Clark, left, made the allegations on ABC's Primetime Live

Mr Liguori said investigations into improper conduct on the hit talent contest began soon after, but might not be completed before production began on the next series.

"At this point, we have nothing that specifically says she shouldn't be showing up for work," said Mr Liguori, referring to Abdul's role as a judge on the fourth series.

"The audience loves Paula."

Contest priority

However, he acknowledged that the independent council was led by a lawyer hired by Fox and the producers of American Idol.

"It's as independent as one can make it," he said

"The sanctity of the competition is first and foremost. The line is whether or not it affects the outcome of the competition."

Auditions for the new series of American Idol begin on 18 August, with the series due to air in January 2006.

Abdul recently joined Fox's latest reality show So You Think You Can Dance, travelling the US giving dancing tips to the general public.

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