One Direction star Zayn Malik 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 their 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 yesterday's live interview and caused a furore among the group's fans, who appeared outraged that the host could ask such a question.
Malik, who had managed to make it to the studio on Saturday to record the Band Aid 30 single, later said he had been "ill".
"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," he said.
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 Malik, saying: "No, he's just got a stomach bug, he's OK. He's just at home. He just needs to rest."
Malik - who is engaged to Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards - said he planned to rejoin the group "as soon as I'm feeling better" and said he was "gutted" he could not be with them.