One Direction star Zayn Malik has said he has been angered by a US TV host's suggestion that drug use could have been a factor in the singer's absence from promotional commitments.
His four bandmates - in the US to plug new album Four - were asked by presenter Matt Lauer on The Today Show about "rumours of substance abuse".
The remark got a frosty reception from the other members of the group during the live interview and caused a furore among the group's fans, who appeared outraged that the host could ask such a question.
Zayn - who had managed to make it to the studio on Saturday to record the Band Aid 30 single - later said he had been "ill".
He told the Sun: "I'm really angry and upset by what was said on The Today Show. I was really ill at the weekend, that's why I couldn't fly to America."
Earlier this year, the singer was seen in a leaked video smoking what appeared to be a joint while the group travelled in a van in South America. His bandmate, Louis Tomlinson, narrated, saying: "So here we are leaving Peru. Joint lit. Happy days."
The band - one of the world's biggest selling acts - consulted lawyers after the video emerged.
During the TV interview, Lauer asked the other four: "There have been rumours of substance abuse, what's going on?"
Liam Payne defended Zayn, saying: "No, he's just got a stomach bug, he's OK. He's just at home. He just needs to rest."
Zayn - who is engaged to Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards - told the Sun he planned to rejoin the group "as soon as I'm feeling better" and said he was "gutted" he could not be with them.