TV bad guy Simon Cowell has sparked grave concern in his native Britain - MPs fear his cruel jibes are wrecking kids' confidence.

The music mogul is a judge in the current series of Pop Idol, the show that originated American Idol, and is well-known for his vicious put-downs.

And Cowell's harsh words have been taken so seriously by members of the British parliament, they brought the issue up in a Parliamentary petition yesterday (3NOV03), suggesting the behaviour of Cowell and his fellow judges is destroying young people's dreams.

Glasgow, Scotland MP JIM SHERIDAN, leading the protest, says, "Simon Cowell has seen his earnings increase to GBP33.5 million a year - is that just from crushing kids? What message are we sending out to youngsters who do not fit these preconceived ideas that you have to be slim and attractive? People are being pressurised to look a certain way and not everybody can."

Overweight Glasgow wannabe Michelle McManus, who's made it into the final 20 of the competition, has been savaged by Cowell for not looking "like a Pop Idol", despite her impressive vocal skills.

04/11/2003 09:18