A teacher who was accused of stroking a pupil’s thigh during a lesson has been banned from the profession. 

Paul Richards, 64, who taught design and technology at Finton House School in Wandsworth, faced a Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) misconduct hearing accused of inappropriate and sexually motivated physical contact with a pupil. 

The hearing heard that the alleged incident took place in a classroom at the private prep school when the pupil dropped her pen lid on the floor.

She said: “Mr Richards crouched down under the table to find it. He was underneath the table for a few seconds... 

“When Mr Richards was underneath the table, I felt him rubbing his hand up and down my outer thigh.

“After this happened, he got up and walked off, but the pen lid stayed on the floor which I found strange. 

“I was so shocked at what had happened, I did not know what to think and it was a strange feeling.” 

Mr Richards denied the accusation and stated: “She has lied. I don’t know why she’s lied... but she did.” 

When asked what he remembers about the incident he said: “It was just a lesson. I don’t remember anything. It was just a lesson.” 

After hearing the evidence the misconduct panel said they found the pupil to be an honest and credible witness who did not seek to embellish her evidence. 

The panel concluded that it was satisfied that Mr Richards had rubbed her thigh with his hand, and that this conduct was sexually motivated. 

Mr Richards was also accused of further inappropriate conduct by putting his arm around pupils, ruffling their hair and hugging pupils – but these allegations were not found proven. 

He did not deny that he had put his arm around pupils and ruffled their hair, but said it was not done in an inappropriate manner. 

He said: “I had a relaxed but professional teaching style, and my personal and professional conduct had been consistently high throughout my career.” 

Mr Richards denied hugging pupils. 

The misconduct panel were given many positive references from colleagues, parents and former pupils which attested to Mr Richards character during his 25 years at the school. 

But decision maker Sarah Buxcey stated: “I have concluded that a prohibition order is proportionate.” 

Mr Richards will be banned from teaching in England indefinitely.