A doctor has been given a formal warning after admitting signing a medical letter he knew contained false information, saying he acted "out of misguided loyalty and sheer desire to help a friend".

Doctor Mg Oo - a GP partner for almost 30 years at Bedwell Medical Centre in Stevenage - signed the erroneous letter to NHS England in an attempt to help a fellow doctor, who had been a friend for many years, cover up a wrongdoing.

The letter falsely claimed Dr Oo knew his friend - known as Doctor A - was self-prescribing medication and accessing his own medical records, following discussion and consent from him and another doctor.

An investigation into Dr A by the General Medical Council eventually cast suspicion on Dr Oo, who then admitted he had given no such consent, and had not been aware of Dr A's actions until after they had been carried out.

Dr Oo said Dr A had arrived at his home in July 2018, asking him to sign a letter he had written himself.

Dr Oo said: "Out of misguided loyalty and sheer desire to help a friend in need, I duly signed the letter." He said the decision was "a grave misjudgment".

A hearing by the Medical Practitioners' Tribunal Service this month found Dr Oo's dishonest actions amounted to serious misconduct, but his fitness to practise was not impaired.

The judgment says: "Dr Oo failed to act with integrity and honesty. Members of the medical profession would find Dr Oo’s misconduct deplorable."

The tribunal determined the isolated incident in an otherwise unblemished and longstanding career was "wholly out of character" for Dr Oo, who had "displayed a momentary lapse of judgment, to help a friend".

It said Dr Oo had shown genuine remorse and significant insight into his actions.

Dr Oo was given a formal warning, with the tribunal saying: "When you signed the letter, you were aware it contained information that was untrue. Your actions were dishonest.

"This conduct does not meet with the standards required of a doctor. It risks bringing the profession into disrepute and it must not be repeated.

"Whilst this failing in itself is not so serious as to require any restriction on your registration, it is necessary to issue this formal warning.

"This warning will be published on the medical register."