Cheryl Cole was ordered to axe teenager Gamu Nhengu from the X Factor, sources claimed last night.

The claim that bosses issued the order because of problems over Gamu’s visa came as more than 125,000 people signed up to Facebook pages backing the Scots-based 18-year-old.

A spokesman for the show last night denied the claims.

But it did nothing to quell the storm of protest over Zimbabwe-born Gamu’s exit.

The biggest of dozens of Facebook pages backing her hit more than 125,000 supporters last night.

Many of them were hopeful that show producers – who have promised a “twist” next weekend – were preparing to give “wild cards” to axed contestants.

Bookies were also still hopeful of the wild-card scenario, putting Gamu among the favourites to win.

Former Xtra Factor presenter Holly Willoughby said: “If Gamu does come back as a wild card, she could go and win it. She is going to have the whole nation behind her. That is an advantage.”

A production source said: “Cheryl didn’t really have much of a say.

“It was made clear that Gamu shouldn’t be put through because they had issues with her, including the visa situation.

“A lot of people working on the show think it’s really unfair that Cheryl is taking all the flak.

“It’s ridiculous the situation has got this far. Gamu should never have been put through to the judges’ houses with question marks surrounding her visa.

“Gamu not getting through has now become a bigger talking point than the 12 finalists.”

A spokesman for the show said last night: “Gamu’s visa being processed was not the reason that she didn’t make the final 12.”

However, the spokesman went on to confirm Gamu’s two-year visa was currently being renewed.

On Sunday, more than 16.2 million viewers – a record for this stage of The X Factor – saw girls’ section mentor Cheryl put through Katie Waissel, 24, Cher Lloyd, 17, and Rebecca Ferguson, 24.

Gamu gave a flawless performance of Pixie Lott’s Cry Me Out when she sang for Cheryl.

But Cher failed to sing at all after falling ill with tonsilitis.

And she then rejected Cheryl’s offer to come back later and sing again.

Both she and Katie broke down in tears as they appeared in front of Cheryl and her special guest, Black Eyed Peas star

But the Geordie judge chose them to go through in the girls category, along with Liverpudlian mum-of-two Rebecca.

Gamu was not at the home she shares with mum Nokuthula in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, yesterday. Nokuthula refused to comment.

The only Scot to make it into the final 12 was Storm Lee Gardner, 37, who moved from Edinburgh to Los Angeles when he was 17.

Over-28s mentor Louis Walsh has told him to go all out for the Scottish vote, even if it means wearing a tartan suit.