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X Factor Matt and his 'bogus band of brothers'

By Barbara Davies

Piling on the pathos: X Factor winner Matt Cardle's sob story about taking in bereaved boys has been dismissed as 'hokum'

As close followers of the X Factor will testify, a good voice is an advantage, but having a good tale to tell is essential.

And Matt Cardle’s story was a showstopper.

After an emotional rendition of the Roberta Flack hit The First Time (Ever I Saw Your Face), he told how his selfless mother Jennifer had cared for her best friend Sharon Floyd’s four sons after she was killed in a car crash.

His story went down such a treat with the punters that hours before Sunday’s final, he told it all over again in a newspaper, declaring: ‘Overnight I gained four brothers.’

Sure enough, 27-year-old Cardle’s testimony helped him to victory and a £1million recording contract.

What a shame it’s almost entirely untrue.

At his home in prosperous Kingswood, Surrey, 62-year-old property developer David Floyd, father of Cardle’s so-called ‘brothers’ and the widower of Sharon, described the story pumped out by the X Factor publicity machine as ‘complete nonsense’.

His sons, he added, have never lived with Matt Cardle or his family, with whom, he adds, he and his wife were not even close friends.

‘It’s complete hokum,’ he said. ‘Being their father, it was me who raised my own sons after their mother died. It was a very difficult time. I also paid for all of them to go to boarding school and during the holidays they were with me.

‘Sharon would have been astounded at the very idea of the Cardles adopting our children.'

They were nice enough people but the idea that Matt Cardle and my sons are somehow foster brothers is absolutely laughable. They were school friends. They occasionally went to their home for sleepovers.’

After his performance of The First Time, Cardle’s teary-eyed mentor Dannii Minogue gave him a standing ovation and declared in front of millions of live television viewers: ‘I wish everyone at home knew the story you told me about why you sang that. I know it’s really personal for your family.’

Cardle, who described himself as a painter and decorator, duly obliged, saying: ‘My mum took on those kids and they absolutely made our family bigger and better.’

In his subsequent newspaper interview, he added: ‘Words can’t really describe how we all felt after Sharon’s sad loss.

'Brothers': Tom and Julian Floyd recorded a video message for an emotional Cardle (inset)

‘My mum Jenny and Sharon had promised to look after each other’s kids if anything happened to them. Mum took in her sons Ben, Julian and twins Tom and Rob.’

With everything to play for as the final vote approached, Cardle added a final little twist. ‘This weekend is for them and Sharon,’ he declared, as his mixed-race ‘brothers’ appeared in a videotaped message to offer their support.

For Mr Floyd and his sons, Julian, 31, Ben, 27, and 25-year-old identical twins Tom and Rob, Cardle’s version of events hardly matches their own.

While the privately-educated brothers, all of whom now work as investment bankers, are indeed friends with Cardle and were invited backstage at the show on a couple of occasions, they telephoned their father to warn him that the family’s tragic past had been hugely exaggerated and airbrushed for television audiences.

As seen on TV: Cardle's parents also filmed an emotional video message. But their links to the Floyd family may have been wildly exaggerated

‘They phoned me and said something was coming up in a Sunday newspaper,’ said Mr Floyd. ‘They knew that it wouldn’t be the truth. It’s a complete charade. I think it came as an enormous surprise to them. But he was a school friend.

‘They feel some loyalty to him. And it seems that if you haven’t got a hard luck story you have to invent one, which is clearly what’s happened in this case.’

Far from Mr Floyd being estranged from his sons, as has been suggested, Tom and Rob were by his side when he recently remarried at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxfordshire.

The worst ‘fabrication’ of all says Mr Floyd, is Cardle’s choosing to dedicate the Roberta Flack song to Sharon. It has been reported that he sang at her funeral, although Cardle did not even attend the service. Sharon couldn’t stand schmaltzy songs. She loved classical music.

‘Her favourite was Schubert’s Song Cycles, in particular Winterreise. Her tastes were a million miles away from the X Factor.’

Mr Floyd, who is considering consulting his lawyers, Mishcon de Reya, about what has happened, adds: ‘The record needs to be set straight.’

It was in the early 1980s that David Floyd met Jamaica-born Sharon Lewis. She already had one son, Julian, and was working for the local authority in Harrow, north-west London.

They married in 1985 and soon after had their first son together, Ben. The twins followed in 1986. ‘She gave up work when she had the boys,’ he said. ‘In her spare time she studied for various degrees. We had an au pair to help with the boys and we were both passionate about their education.’

Mr Floyd said he and his wife met the Cardles when their sons were briefly at the same private school, Stoke College in Suffolk.

‘They were just parents we met on the touch line at school rugby games. We sometimes attended the same drinks parties.’

He added that he and his wife soon decided to move their children to another prep school, Dame Bradbury’s, near their home in Saffron Walden, Essex.

The accident which claimed 43-year-old Sharon Floyd’s life happened on November 7, 1996 – when Matt Cardle was 13, not 11, as he claimed to presenter Konnie Huq on the Xtra Factor spin-off show.

Mrs Floyd, who had recently separated from her husband, was on the M11 when her Volkswagen Golf was struck by a Nissan Terrano 4X4 which veered across the central reservation towards her. Its Spanish driver later admitted a charge of careless driving.

It was, says Mr Floyd, ‘a painful time’ for his sons and the family. ‘It’s irrelevant that we were separated. It was exceptionally difficult and upsetting. And after Sharon’s death the boys lived with me until they went to university.’

He has no recollection of Jenny Cardle, Matt’s mother, ever offering any support.
‘In fact, the last time I saw Matt he was about ten or 11 years old.’

His sons, for their part, declined to discuss their relationship with Cardle, or their involvement in the X Factor, when contacted by the Daily Mail.

But not surprisingly, Mr Floyd, an opera-lover and a regular visitor to the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, is outraged by the treatment he has received.

‘It’s the usual story,’ he says. ‘The publicity machine keeps spinning. Everything is dumbed down. All this stuff about Matt just being a painter and decorator is nonsense.’

During his time on the show, nothing was said of Cardle’s £15,000-a-year education at Stoke College or the fact that he grew up in a £500,000 home in the Essex village of Little Maplestead. Or that his middle-class parents own a logistics consultancy firm called Frazer-Nash Associates.

In the end, of course, Cardle’s carefully manufactured image has brought him victory and that £1million contract. But what happens afterwards is anyone’s guess.

Cardle himself has spoken of wanting ‘credibility’ as a singer. After the story of his ‘brothers’, however, his own personal credibility would seem to be in short supply.