HACKERS have targeted the email account of East Lancashire cycling supremo Brian Cookson, claiming he had been mugged and needed money to pay his hotel bills.

An email claiming to be from Mr Cookson, who lives in Whalley, was sent to hundreds of his contacts, including top riders, sports officials and journalists.

It claimed he had been attacked on a trip to Ukraine and had his money, phone and luggage stolen. It said he needed £2,450 to pay for his hotel bills.

The message said: “I came to Kiev, Ukraine, for a trip. The trip was successful and everything was fine until I was attacked on my way back to the hotel. I wasn't hurt but I lost my money, bank cards, mobile phone and my bag in the course of this attack.

"I immediately contacted my bank in order to block my cards and also made a report at the nearest police station. I've been to the embassy and they are helping me with my documentation so I can fly out. I am sorry if I am inconveniencing (sic) you, but I have only very few people to run to now.

"I will be indeed very grateful if you could help me with about $2,450. This will enable me sort out my hotel bills and get my self back.”

But Mr Cookson, who is the president of cycling’s governing body the UCI and Pendle Council's former regeneration chief, said it was a scam.

He said: “The hackers stole my entire contacts list of several hundred people. I don't think anyone was fooled though. Chris Hoy and Chris Boardman both tweeted amusingly about it.

“All resolved now and my contacts list has been restored.“