LATEST: TOM CRUISE stood firm behind his controversial comments about September 11 (01) rescue workers coming off their post-trauma medications when he visited New York City firefighters on Wednesday night (14DEC05).

The movie star has been blasted by firefighters suffering the effects of smoke inhalation from the World Trade Center terrorist attacks after urging them to give up their medication as part of a 'purification rundown' favoured by his Church of Scientology elders.

But public criticism didn't stop Cruise and his pregnant fiancee Katie Holmes from visiting a New York City Rescue Workers Detoxification Project fundraiser, which he helped found in the wake of 9/11. The couple were joined by R+B star Usher.

He says, "I started this project out of the great respect I have for the courage and service of the rescue workers.

"When I started this project I was in position where I knew I could help. I absolutely consider it an honour and a privilege to be here to help these men and women."

The annual Tribeca gala raised $1.6 million (GBP890,000).

The project aids firefighters, emergency medical technicians, police officers and the many first responders who were exposed to potentially dangerous materials circulating in the air after the collapse of the World Trade Center.