A drama teacher accused of having sexual relationships with two former pupils has said she is not a lesbian.

Caroline French, 38, of Darlington, is said to have groomed a 13-year-old student who was being bullied by giving her cigarettes and alcohol.

She is accused of having a sexual relationship with the Blackpool secondary school pupil between 2002 and 2004.

Ms French is also accused of having a sexual relationship with another female pupil at a different school in Blackpool later in 2004.

The 16-year-old girl moved into Ms French’s home when she was a sixth-form student and changed her surname to French by deed poll.

Preston crown court heard that a relationship lasted three years.

Ms French admits the girl moved in with her but said her mother had consented and that there was no sexual relationship.

She said the teenager was “troubled” and took her name because she felt part of Ms French’s family.

Another former pupil and a teacher have claimed that Ms French told them she was a lesbian.

Ms French claims that they and the two girls are lying and that she is not gay.

She denies three acts of indecent assault and one count of indecency with a child.