A leading gymnastics coach who was cleared of child abuse has lost his fight for compensation against the council which unfairly sacked him.

Paul Wells, 63, was fired by Newcastle City Council five months before his trial on six charges of indecent assault against children he coached.

Mr Wells was acquitted in July 2000 and Judge Maurice Carr told him he could walk away without a stain on his character.

But after winning a case for unfair dismissal against the city council, he has now learned that the subsequent remedies hearing has awarded him nothing in compensation.

In an exclusive interview with The Northern Echo, Mr Wells said he was devastated by the latest ruling.

"I am totally baffled by their decision," he said.

"My life is ruined, my career is ruined, I may as well have been found guilty."

Mr Wells was a duty manager and head gymnastics and trampoline coach at a sports centre in Newcastle. During his 20-year career he coached around 500,000 youngsters, including 32 national school and British Trampoline Federation champions.

After an initial allegation of abuse in November 1998, other charges of indecent assault were brought following a Northumbria Police appeal for information.

The allegations centred on the way Mr Wells handled the school children while they were being coached in front of teachers and classmates.

He has battled to clear his name for more than four years, despite being cleared at crown court and recently learning that his name has been removed from the Government's Protection of Children Act List, which bars people from working with youngsters.

As part of their ruling, the remedies hearing panel said they were in no doubt that there had been "absolutely no intention on his part to interfere with or harm the children."

But his behaviour had been "totally inappropriate" in the workplace in the way he had put his arm around or cuddled some of the youngsters.

It was the duty of the council to act in a cautious way when it was acting as "loco parentis" to the children, it said.

In a statement, Newcastle City Council said Mr Wells was still barred from working or volunteering as a trampoline and gymnastics coach in leisure centres run by them.

"It considers that in view of his inappropriate behaviour during his employment he is not a suitable person to work with children."