A 'DEVASTATED' private hire driver says he was suspended for six days from taking children to school - after being seen kissing and hugging his own daughters.

Tony Kemp, 60, who was reinstated on Tuesday by North Yorkshire County Council, said he had endured a living nightmare since the authority phoned him last Thursday, telling him he was being suspended from the school run with immediate effect.

He was told an allegation had been made against him but he could be given no more details, and he had still not been officially informed or interviewed by Tuesday afternoon.

However last Friday, a source in the taxi trade had told him it was well known in Pickering and Malton that a driver had been suspended after someone had reported seeing him kissing and cuddling two girls outside Pickering Junior School.

"That's when the penny dropped," said Tony, whose business is called Crystal Cars. "I take children to the school from villages up on the Moors but it wasn't them I was hugging and kissing - it was my own daughters, who are aged nine and 11 and are taken to the school each day by their mother from their home in Malton.

"We have unfortunately separated and I live in Kirkbymoorside, but they always look out for me and run up for a hug and a kiss when they see me arrive with the car, and my daughter also gets in the vehicle to get some of my TicTacs from a door pocket."

He said he believed a public-spirited person had seen this, misinterpreted what was happening and contacted the authorities to raise their concerns.

Mr Kemp said he could not understand why he wasn’t informed what had been alleged and interviewed as a matter of urgency, which would have allowed him to explain what had happened.

"The past six days have been the worst of my life since my father died 35 years ago," he said. "I'm personally devastated at the allegation aimed at me.

"I've also lost hundreds of pounds worth of business but even worse than that is that my good reputation, which I have built up over the past 12 years, has been shattered, and I'm worried about reprisals from people who think I go round kissing schoolchildren," he said, adding that he was returning to his school run today.

A council spokeswoman said: “We have followed the Child Protection Procedures. This matter has now been investigated and found to be false."