A school transport driver in North Yorkshire was suspended from his job for 'inappropriate contact with children' after a member of the public reported him for hugging his own daughters. Tony Kemp, 60, who has been a school transport driver for three years and a taxi driver for 12, was given no explanation when he was suspended by North Yorkshire County Council on 14 January, and was devastated when he learnt what he had been accused of.
The father-of-five, from Pickering, told IBTimes UK: "After I dropped my school transport children off, my two daughters were waiting by the car to see me, so I gave them a hug and a kiss. They are nine and 11, they had been waiting to see their daddy, and I was suspended for showing affection to my own children. I don't know who on earth saw me hug my children and turned it into something sordid – they put two and two together and made five.
"My children go to the same school as the children I drop off in the school transport vehicle, so they are wearing the same uniform, but if someone was confused and didn't realise they were my children, they could have asked one of the teachers standing nearby."
Having been given no reason for his suspension, Kemp was left to wonder what he was being accused of until a colleague told him several days later that a driver had been seen hugging students.
"When the council called they told me they weren't at liberty to tell me where, when or why I was being suspended, nothing," the owner of Crystal Cars explained. "When my colleague told me about a driver who had been accused of hugging children, I realised he was talking about me – it was horrendous. You go fuzzy when you hear something like that, I felt light-headed when I realised he was referring to me."
After six days, Kemp's suspension was lifted by the council, who he says admitted there had been an accusation of contact with children but that they now understood they had been his own. North Yorkshire County Council said in a statement: "We followed child protection procedures. This matter has been investigated and found to be false."
In addition to losing money from the days he was suspended from work, Kemp said he is also determined people are made aware of the mix-up. "They are my own flesh and blood, and I feel like what I've been accused of is going to hang over me for the rest of my life," he said.
"I'm hundreds of pounds out of pocket from the days I was suspended and I just think the whole thing could have been handled differently – the council's procedure is wrong. I'm immensely proud of my kids. I've been a daddy and shown affection to my daughters, and it got me suspended."