He was dubbed the ''Teflon Doc'' because the charges never stuck and some might say it is not hard to see why when it comes to the abilities of surgeon Gavin Denton.

The gaffe prone medic, 56, was allowed to carry on practising medicine despite being criticised in a string of disciplinary investigations spanning 16 years.

During a checkered 32 year career Denton had sparked concern from up to 16 families after their loved ones died following routine surgery he had carried out at hospitals in the North of England - but had repeatedly escaped being sacked.

During an investigation over his conduct at one hospital he was put on gardening leave on full pay for three YEARS - leaving taxpayers to foot his £80,000 annual salary plus £260,000 in legal fees. He was subsequently ordered to retrain by the General Medical Council.

Denton took up a post at another hospital 95 miles away only to be referred again to the GMC within three months of his appointment following the death of another patient, But he escaped the axe again and was instead ordered to work under supervision.

Last week Denton from Scunthorpe, Lincs, was brought back before medical watchdogs in Manchester for a third time after the death of a 65-year old man following a bungled bowel operation and was criticised over his ''irresponsible, incomprehensible and reckless behaviour.''

But Rebecca Hutton, an NHS counsellor whose 56-year old mother Sylvia Cooper died in 2004 following surgery carried out by Denton at Scunthorpe General Hospital Lincs, said: ''It should have happened a long time ago. If he had bene struck off after the first tribunal then we wouldn't have lost my mum and other people wouldn't have lost their loves ones too.

"After mum died my sister put Denton's name in Google because we already thought there was something not right about him and we were shocked to find out there had already been a long list of complaints about him. He's been given plenty of chances to address his failings but he has never learnt from past mistakes. He's just an arrogant man who has got what has been coming to him.''

At the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, Prof Denis McDevitt told Denton: "Given your background, your previous problems, the Tribunal would have expected you to demonstrate a cautious and conservative approach to your surgical practice. What you did was nothing less than reckless.''

Cavendish Press' coverage of Denton's tribunal went in the Daily Express. If you have a story please contact us on 0161 237 1066 or email [email protected].