BRITISH pop band East 17 sacked their lead singer, Brian Harvey, last night just 24 hours after he proclaimed that ecstasy was a "safe" drug which "increases the love between people."
Despite Harvey's full apology following the immediate public furore over his comments, East 17, one of Britain's leading "boy bands", issued a terse statement saying he had been sacked from the group because of his unacceptable behaviour".
The three other members of the band - Tony Mortimer, Terry Coldwell and John Hendy - stated that in "no circumstances" could they condone the taking of ecstasy or other illegal drugs.
"His recent remarks about the drugs to the media have forced the other three members to demand that Brian leaves the band... they want it known that these remarks made by Brian Harvey do not reflect the views of the other three members," the statement said.
Last night Harvey instructed security guards outside his Essex home to tell the waiting media he was refusing to comment on his dismissal.
He could now also be prosecuted for inciting people to take drugs, according to a junior British Home Office minister Mr Tom Sackville.
During a radio interview on Thursday, Harvey (22), who was suppose to be publicising the band's new single, Hey Child, said he had taken 12 ecstasy tablets one night and then driven home "no problem".
Within minutes of the interview being broadcast, radio stations across Britain had banned East 17 records, while several DJs actually smashed their discs on the air. MPs, including the British Prime Minister, Mr Major, condemned Harvey's remarks, but said the music was "great".
Clearly worried by the furore, East 17's record company told him to issue an immediate apology to his fans. Although he admitted that he was "stupid to spout off" and that his comments were "completely out of order" because esctasy does kill, this was not enough to appease the other band members.
Last night Harvey's grandparents, Bert and Betty Nabb, who raised him from the age of 10 after his parents divorced, said they were shocked by the sacking and the public criticism of their grandson.
"I know he's not on drugs now. I'll forgive him anything because he is my grandson. But he is just too open and should think before he speaks," said Mrs Nabb.
Despite the sacking and Harvey's apology, several radio stations insisted their ban on East 17 records remained.
A spokesman for FOX FM in Oxford said the station would play an interview with the parents of Leah Belts, the teenager who died from esctasy on her 18th birthday, instead of the band's new single during their chart show.
East 17 have sold more than a million records in the last three months. Their latest album, All Around the World - The Journey So Far, has gone double platinum since its release 10 weeks ago.