AN acclaimed school head said she thought an email claiming she had a sexual relationship with a teenage boy was “a hoax”.

Anne Lakey told a jury of her “utter disbelief” as she was informed of the message, sent to one of the two merged former comprehensive schools where she is chief executive.

The allegations were made by a man who Ms Lakey knew when he was aged about 14 and she was 28 or 29.

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Durham Crown Court has been told the boy was not a pupil of hers, although he was aware she was a teacher at the time as head of history at Sandhill View Comprehensive, Sunderland.

Ms Lakey said the boy came to her house in Stanley, County Durham, with friends and at other times on his own to walk her dog and feed her kittens and rabbits, but she did not believe she would have been alone when he visited.

She was giving evidence on the fifth day of her trial on nine counts relating to alleged sexual misconduct with the boy dating from the late 1980s.

Since they came to light she has remained suspended from her role overseeing the Durham Federation of Schools, the amalgamation of the former failing comprehensives at Ushaw Moor and Sacriston whose fortunes she has been credited with helping turn around in recent years.

In cross-examination, prosecution counsel Caroline Goodwin asked for her reaction when she was first made aware of the claims - the day they were received at the school in December 2012.

“It was utter disbelief. It wasn’t true. I was shocked and horrified," she said.

“My chair of governors was on site at the time and I called him in and made a phone call to our lead officer to say the hoax hadn’t happened.”

Asked by Ms Goodwin why her accuser would describe her as “a sex monster” in his email to the school, she said: ”I have absolutely no idea why he would do that. Over time his reasons have probably changed, but I would be speculating.”

Ms Goodwin asked: “What have you done to him to make him tell these heinous lies about you?”

Ms Lakey replied: “I have absolutely idea.”

Ms Goodwin responded: “It’s a complete and utter fantasy?”

Ms Lakey agreed and, asked what may be his motive in making the allegations, she said: “My instinct was that it was money, but that’s speculation.”

The 54-year-old, of Oxhill Villas, Stanley, denies four counts of indecency with a child and five of indecent assault.

Her trial continues.