An academy has insisted there is no reason for Rebekah Brooks to resign from its board of governors despite being mired in the News of the World hacking scandal.
Union critics have questioned whether the embattled News International chief executive - a governor of Fulwood Academy in Preston - is fit to oversee the running of a school following allegations of widespread abuses by the company's journalists.
News International closed News of the World after it was revealed that it had hacked the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler while Mrs Brooks was editor. The scandal intensified this week amid claims that former prime minister Gordon Brown and the royal family were targeted.
Mrs Brooks pulled out of an end-of-year prize-giving event on Wednesday evening, when she had been due to hand out awards as guest of honour.
The school said she withdrew because she "felt the media interest in her attendance might overshadow and spoil this special evening for the prize- winning students".
Mrs Brooks is a friend of the academy sponsor, Carphone Warehouse tycoon Charles Dunstone, and has been a governor since it opened in September 2009.
Chairman of governors David Goldie said Mrs Brooks had done a "fantastic job" for the school, which has a digital media specialism, and was instrumental in setting up a sixth-form newspaper and redeveloping the library.
He told The TES: "Rebekah is a really excellent governor and I hope she is able to stay with us.
"As I understand it she says the abuses at News International are reprehensible and she was in no way a participant or had any knowledge.
"On that basis, until some evidence emerges that proves that not to be the case, I don't think there is any question over her position as governor in our school."
But Ken Cridland, secretary of the NUT in Lancashire, said: "Young people need to aspire to great things and they do need role models.
"There is a huge question mark over whether Rebekah Brooks should be put in front of them as someone to look up to."
John Girdley, NASUWT national executive member for the region, said: "I am very uneasy about having someone who is alleged to have done so many questionable things as a role model for a school, and that's what you have to be as a school governor."
Mrs Brooks and Mr Dunstone were not available for comment.