A decision to strike off a Black Country school headteacher for claiming Caribbean trips on expenses has been upheld by the High Court.

The General Teaching Council (GTC) banned Susan Duncan, 51, from teaching for five years after hearing how she had taken another woman, Margaret Simcox, on holiday with her.

Lawyers for Miss Duncan, who was head of the Meadows Special School in Oldbury, West Midlands, argued she had been conducting fully justified "risk assessments" for future school trips.

They contended the GTC Professional Conduct Committee decision that her behaviour was professionally unacceptable was flawed and irrational.

But Mr Justice Ouseley, sitting at the High Court in London, rejected her appeal and ruled the committee (PCC) was entitled to conclude that the trips were "holidays that Miss Duncan attempted to disguise as risk assessment trips".

The judge said Miss Duncan, from Pelsall, West Midlands, had now retired on the grounds of ill health and had brought her legal challenge to protect her reputation and standing. The allegations of making false expenses related to trips she made to the Caribbean in 2005 and 2006.

One of the most serious allegations found proved related to a claim for £306 in relation to a "swimming with dolphins" trip to Antigua, when she was accompanied by Miss Simcox. The judge said she had justified claiming for the trip on the basis that it was a risk assessment visit for a future trip being made by pupils from her school.

Another serious allegation involved total claims of over £3,000 in respect of a trip to Jamaica in April 2006, again undertaken with Miss Simcox, and again claimed as a risk assessment trip for a school visit planned for the following month. "The major allegation is that these were expenses for a private holiday for Miss Duncan and Miss Simcox," said the judge.

Miss Simcox was the special needs manager with Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council. After the April 6 trip to Jamaica, she became a teacher at the Meadows school. The judge said there were two less serious allegations.

They related to four members of Miss Simcox's family going on the May 2006 school trip without the approval of school governors and without the proper criminal records bureau checks being carried out. Those allegations would not themselves have led to Miss Duncan being struck off, and today's appeal was concerned only with the expenses claims.

The judge said it was argued that there had been lack of evidence to justify the PCC's finding that she was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct, and the committee had come to irrational conclusions.

The judge said Miss Duncan had not given evidence to the PCC as she was ill at the time, principally with depression. He ruled the committee "had a proper basis for coming to the conclusion they did on the evidence."