A top surgeon and former chairman of the British Medical Association was today "totally vindicated" his lawyer said, after a litany of misconduct charges against him were rejected by medical watchdogs.

James Johnson, 64, a "seasoned surgeon and distinguished doctor", was accused of acting with arrogance and carrying out amputations when other operations should have been considered.

But most of the charges were rejected after a ten week hearing of a Fitness to Practise panel of the General Medical Council (GMC) sitting in Manchester.

It had been claimed Mr Johnson had spent too much of his time in his high-flying role as chairman of the BMA and too little time caring for his patients and keeping his surgical practice up to date at the two hospitals where he worked in Runcorn and Warrington.

The GMC did find Mr Johnson did sometimes not properly involve himself with post-operative care of his patients because he was away in London on BMA duties.

But the GMC panel cleared him of most of the charges, including all the more serious ones.

Dr Johnson was said to be "relieved" following the hearing, which will continue later today, in line with normal GMC procedures, to decide if any sanctions should be taken against him, although this now appears unlikely.

Martin Ford, representing Mr Johnson, said the hearing had "resulted in his total vindication".

He said despite "inappropriate and lurid" headlines, the panel had found no patient had suffered because of his care, he had not carried out any unnecessary amputations and any allegation of clinical incompetence was proved wrong.