A Bolton doctor who raped and sexually assaulted a vulnerable 11-year-old girl has failed to clear his name.

Stephen Hamilton, who was a family GP at Heaton Medical Centre,  was jailed for 18 years last year after a Manchester Crown Court jury found him guilty of a horrifying string of sex offences, including rape and sexual assault.

However, the disgraced GP has always protested his innocence and took his case back to court last month in a bid to clear his name and earn his freedom.

His lawyers argued it was wrong to let the jury decide his guilt without assessing potentially crucial expert evidence in the case.

The evidence could have greatly affected the way the jury assessed the reliability of the girl's account, top judges were told.

After hearing the appeal, phone hacking judge Sir Brian Leveson reserved judgment.

But he returned to the London court to dismiss Hamilton's appeal and condemn him to serve his punishment.

Sir Brian said the defence had been refused permission to adduce the evidence at the trial because the crown court judge considered it "inadmissible".

The expert had put forward her evidence in an "inappropriate" manner, effectively taking the role of an advocate and arguing the case for the defence, the trial judge said.

Sir Brian continued: "The critical issue which the jury had to resolve in the light of all the evidence was not only the credibility of the complainant, but also her reliability.

"It was, however, the responsibility of the jurors to undertake that task and not that of either the treating doctors or the defence expert."

The judge, who heard last month's appeal with Mrs Justice Patterson and Sir Richard Henriques, dismissed Hamilton's challenge to the convictions and overall sentence.

Sir Brian said: "We have anxiously considered these verdicts, conscious of the enormous impact on all parties of the verdicts in this case and, in particular, on Hamilton.”

The court heard 47-year-old Hamilton, of Gaskell Road, Altrincham, was a "very good" doctor, who had dedicated himself to his work and cared for his patients.

However, he had a darker side, with features of arrogance, manipulation, bullying, dishonesty and a tendency to use physical and sexual violence.

Hamilton was sentenced to five years for child cruelty, 12 years for sexual assault and 18 years for rape. All sentences will run concurrently.

He was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for life.