A former head of the Islamic Medical Association sent a homophobic letter to a magazine for GPs, saying gay people needed the "stick of law to put them on the right path", the General Medical Council heard today.

Dr Muhammad Siddiq was working as a GP at the Walsall Teaching Primary Care Trust when he wrote the letter to Pulse in July last year.

A GMC fitness to practise panel, in Manchester, heard Dr Siddiq's letter read: "There is punishment and fine if you throw rubbish or filth on the streets, the gays are worse than the ordinary careless citizen, they are causing the spread of illness and they are the root cause of many sexually-transmitted diseases.

"They need neither sympathy nor help, what they need is the stick of law to put them on the right path."

The panel heard that when first questioned about the letter, Dr Siddiq said he had written it because of intense stress, but later claimed the letter had been a "hoax" written by his son without his knowledge.

Bernadette Baxter, prosecuting, said Dr Siddiq wrote to Mr P Griffin, associate director of primary care commissioning at Walsall PCT, to explain the letter after it was published in July last year.

In this letter, he apologised unreservedly and said he had written it because of stress due to unrelated proceedings between himself and the GMC.

He wrote: "I categorically and unreservedly apologise and retract the letter, and apologise for any hurt or offence that may have been caused to anybody reading the letter.

"I have practised as a GP for over 30 years, and I have never discriminated against any patient on any grounds.

"I have never, and never would, refuse treatment to any patient due to their sexual orientation.

"I just cannot understand how or why I could have said the things I said in my letter."

But a few days later, Dr Siddiq's solicitors contacted the PCT to say the letter had been a "misunderstanding", and an apology was subsequently printed in Pulse, in which Dr Siddiq's son took responsibility for the letter.

In the letter from his solicitors, Dr Siddiq said: "I have discovered that the whole situation has arisen due to a hoax by my son.

"I asked my son to prepare a letter for me in relation to an article dated June 28 and say that I agreed that gay patients were not being afforded the care they needed."

He said his son drafted the letter for him, but wrote a "spoof version" which he signed and sent to the magazine without reading.

Miss Baxter told the panel: "The GMC's case is that when Dr Siddiq realised that his letter retracting his statement was not going to do the trick and bring an end to the matter, he strayed from the truth and set out a new explanation."