A FORMER teacher at Rishi Sunak's old school today told a court he never kissed a male pupil because 'lips have a memory for kissing and you don't forget who you kiss'.

Simon Taylor is accused of 'falling in love' with the teenage boy at Winchester College after directing him in a production.

However, he told jurors today that although he 'cared' for his ex-pupil - their relationship had been 'strong and appropriate'.

Prosecutors allege the 78-year-old, who taught English and drama at the College between 1990 and 2013, 'fell in love' with the boy whom he would kiss and 'awkwardly spoon' on his sofa.

He is even accused of sharing a bed with the 'emotionally vulnerable' former pupil - who cannot be named for legal reasons - after the boy's school leaving party.

But father of three Taylor - who the court heard was 'affectionate' with his favourites - said he never invited pupils round for tea but was instead assigned to offer pastoral support by the boy's housemaster.

He said teachers and pupils 'naturally and frequently' formed close connections and said he was 'certainly not in love' with the boy.

Hampshire Chronicle: Simon Taylor outside Winchester Crown CourtSimon Taylor outside Winchester Crown Court (Image: Solent News)

Winchester College, which was founded in 1382, is one of the oldest and most prestigious schools in Britain and charges boarding pupils almost £52,000 a year.

The public school was responsible for the schooling Rishi Sunak, who attended while Taylor was teaching there.

Taylor denies two counts of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust in the mid 2000s.

Giving evidence, Taylor said emotions were high on the last night of his production.

He said: "Everyone was hugging each other. I was in the green room and [the pupil] came to me and hugged me. Clearly he needed comfort and I hugged him back and that was the end of it."

He denied inviting the boy round for tea.

Taylor told the court he agreed to the student's housemaster suggesting he meet with the 'problem boy'.

"I never invited him to my house," he said. "The agreement was [the housemaster] would speak to him and say I would be available to see if he wanted, but he couldn't expect to see me automatically every time.

"As a result my eldest son would often open the door and say 'sorry, Dad's out at rehearsals'. That would be the pattern throughout the rest of the visits. I would never invite him, he was welcome to come anytime he felt he needed."

Taylor said during one of the first visits the boy showed him where he had cut himself, so he 'instinctively' took his hand to comfort him.

He said the boy would come to his house around once a week but eventually 'petered out' by the time the pupils finished at the school.

"[The headmaster and I] thought he was progressing and he did well in the end," he said.

"He seemed to be getting on, I felt we had a strong friendship, perhaps I had helped a little bit towards his progress."

He said when the boy had turned 18 they went to the pub a 'couple of times'.

READ MORE: Teacher accused of ‘kissing and cuddling’ pupil at Winchester College

"That was how the relationship - and I call it a relationship - concluded," he said.

When asked if he had kissed the boy, he laughed and said: "No. I think lips have a memory for kissing. You don't forget who you kiss - I never kissed him."

On whether the boy had stayed the night on his last day of term, he said: "I'm not 100 per cent certain in the end he did, but I think he probably did. But he certainly didn't sleep with me in my bed."

'Shakespearean fanatic' Taylor said he was prompted to think of his former pupil when he bumped into his mother who gave him a 'death stare which stopped me in my tracks' at a London theatre in September 2019.

He told the court this prompted him to think what he thought was a 'strong and appropriate' friendship had been misconstrued.

"In these times, hugging and taking a boys hand might well be considered inappropriate or unwelcome," he said.

"He has described it as unwelcome but then continued to come back to me over and over again."

Taylor messaged him in May 2021, saying he'd been 'thinking about their Winch days' and wanted to 'follow up'.

When asked about what, he said: "Our relationship and my closeness to you. I have been worried you might be upset by it."

He told jurors: "Teachers and pupils would naturally and frequently form close connections. Mainly through academic shared interests, coaching or theatre productions. I have talked with colleagues about this, it's about the care you have. I cared for [the pupil], I liked him.

"I certainly wasn't in love with him, I had no sexual intention."

Defending his term 'closeness', he added: "It's not a euphemism, I meant that - I cared for him."

He told the court he had been 'extremely concerned' about the boy's personal circumstances after hearing rumours about his family from friends and colleagues.

"I genuinely believed the fact I held his hand, hugged his shoulder, might have been the straw that broke the camel's back which he saw as one of the reasons of his psychological problems he was having," he added.

The court heard Taylor, now of Bermondsey, south east London, had got the boy a book for his birthday and signed it 'with love and gratitude'.

Defending his sign off, he said: "It's me I'm afraid. It's just the way I was the way I am. Maybe I use the word love too much, I even used to put it on the end of academic reports. I apologise for the extremity of the gush, it's just me. I used to hug the headmaster."

Taylor also said he had stayed in touch with a 'huge number' of his former pupils.

The trial continues.