Colleagues 'wanted to get rid of whistleblowing teacher,' court hears

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Donna-Marie ThomasImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Jurors heard how a feud had developed at the primary school

A teacher accused of snooping on staff emails said colleagues had been "plotting" to get rid of her after she accused them of inflating test results.

Donna-Maria Thomas is accused of illegally accessing up to six accounts while working at Aldingbourne Primary School in Westergate, West Sussex.

Colleagues had become "hostile" after she alleged they were helping pupils cheat, she told Portsmouth Crown Court.

The 45-year-old, of Bosham in West Sussex, denies all charges.

"The cheating is overgrading the children, so helping them, telling them to change their answer," she told the court.

Her whistleblowing triggered an investigation which changed her relationship with "everybody at the school", she said.

"People were openly hostile to me," she added. "People made derogatory comments. People would walk out of rooms when I walked in."

'Relationship soured'

After being arrested, she told police that "people are looking for ways to get rid of me because of the whistleblowing," the court heard.

Prosecutor Paul Fairle earlier told jurors that Ms Thomas illegally accessed colleagues' emails between December 2018 and January 2019 after a "feud" developed when a request for leave was denied.

Ms Thomas had booked flights and a hotel, but head teacher Liz Webster "realised a mistake had been made" and "felt she could not authorise" the leave, Mr Fairle said.

After this point, he added, "it appears the relationship very much soured".

The trial continues.

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