Producers of Britain's Got Talent have defended allowing a defrocked Roman Catholic priest to audition for the popular ITV1 show.

Neil Horan was jailed in 2003 for disrupting sporting events with religious placards and was defrocked by the Archbishop of Southwark in 2005.

The Irish dancer was seen advancing to the next stage of Britain's Got Talent on Saturday night, with producers insisting they were unaware of his past transgressions and saw his audition as suitable for broadcast.

A statement from Talkback Thames said 62-year-old Horan had gone to auditions to "display his talent at Irish dancing and his past only came to light following his performance".

"At no point during the filming day did Neil show any other motivation to be at the auditions for anything other than dancing.

"Therefore we felt there was no reason why we shouldn't show Neil's audition."

Horan, from south London, was jailed for two months in 2003 having run onto the Silverstone track at the British grand prix, brandishing a banner reading: "Read the Bible. The Bible is always right".

In August 2004, wearing the same tam o'shanter and kilt in which he danced for the Britain's Got Talent judges, he disrupted the Athens Marathon, pushing leader Vanderlei de Lima, with the Brazilian runner later only able to finish third in the long distance race.

And in October of that year, Horan dance an Irish jig outside the Old Bailey in London having been acquitted of two counts of indecent assault concerning a seven-year-old girl.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror after his audition, Horan admitted: "I did tell producers after the show I was always looking for opportunities to spread my religious opinions about the kingdom of God and the imminent second coming.

"My audition was not about religion. I was simply delighted to perform."

He added: "I think they [(the producers] wanted me to jump into Amanda Holden's lap. I didn't do anything as I was proud to represent Ireland and show off my folk dancing."

18/05/2009 12:38:16