A surgeon told the General Medical Council this week that disloyal doctors spread allegations of the 'awful' death rate of his infant patients throughout England and Scotland without telling him.

When Janardan Dhasmana confronted one of the two clandestine 'whistleblowers', Professor Gianni Angelini, he claimed he was told: 'You should kiss my feet because I have saved your bacon.'

Mr Dhasmana, 58, told the GMC's professional conduct committee he was 'hurt and disappointed' at his betrayal by Professor Angelini and anaesthetist Stephen Bolsin, his colleagues at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

He admitted he had had a problem with 'switch' operations on babies under 28 days, but had always been open with colleagues about infant mortality rates.

When nine out of the 13 such patients died, he had decided to stop performing the operations.

When he heard that Professor Angelini and Dr Bolsin had been telling doctors in Newcastle upon Tyne, Glasgow, Liverpool and Great Ormond Street Hospital in London that his mortality rate was 'awful', he had been shocked.

He approached Professor Angelini and asked why he had not come to him personally to voice any concerns.

'He blurted out: 'Janardan, you should kiss my feet because I have saved your bacon'.'

The professor had asserted that he had only been trying to save the infirmary's paediatric cardiac unit - and Mr Dhasmana's own job - by telling the 'truth'.

Mr Dhasmana was being questioned over allegations that he and fellow surgeon James Wisheart carried on performing infant heart operations despite express concerns by colleagues. They deny the allegations.

John Roylance, former chief executive of Untied Bristol Healthcare trust, denies failing to take swift enough action to stop the operations.

The hearing continues.