A former top adviser to Margaret Thatcher who was convicted of faking prescriptions to feed his secret heroin addiction last night urged the Government to dish out the deadly substance freely on the NHS.Dr Clive Froggatt claims Britain will lose the war on drugs unless heroin is made legal.

The former Cheltenham GP received a 12-month suspended jail sentence in 1995 after admitting eight charges of obtaining heroin by deception.

Bristol Crown Court heard that Dr Froggatt led a double life - while he was talking to Government Ministers about health service reform, he was using up to 160 milligrams of the class-A drug a day.

The court was told he used the names of nine patients, including dead people, on hundreds of prescriptions.

Now a counsellor offering support to addicts, he has mounted a campaign to legalise heroin and get it prescribed to users on the NHS.

Next week, Dr Froggatt, 59, who was once described as "the most politically powerful GP in the UK", will send a message to the Government urging it to radically overhaul the country's "failing" drugs policies, which will be seen by millions of television viewers in a Channel 4 documentary.

Britain is spending ยฃ3 million a day to fight drug-related crime, and illegal substances are more easily available on the street than ever.

Dr Froggatt said: "It is time to think the unthinkable and get heroin to the addicts who cannot live without it.

"Drug addiction costs us billions through crime, policing and prisons, so by giving addicts heroin, all our lives will be transformed.

"As a former drug addict myself, doctor and now drugs counsellor, I am sick of the continuing suffering I see among addicts, and I am angry about the chaos they create for the rest of us. Politicians, both in and out of Government, need to be brave and they need to be radical.

" Prescribing heroin to addicts is the solution. It is time we took it."

Dr Froggatt said most heroin users began their habits because of psychological problems such as sexual abuse or difficult childhoods.

He claimed the UK's current drugs policy denied addicts getting therapy until they stopped using heroin, which was a "catch 22".

"Addicts use heroin to mask deeper problems. Heroin is merely a sticking plaster over the wound," he said.

"It is always the same story. People have got terrible problems long before they even get into drug abuse.

"Damaged individuals use heroin as a painkiller, only it does not kill the pain or deal with their problems, but it often kills the addict."

Dr Froggatt reveals in the programme that he was sexually abused as a child.

"Fortunately, I have come to terms with that and see it as part of my past, and it does not trouble me now but it did for a very long time.

"It is a myth that most addicts come from the streets. What is true is that most of them end up there doing anything they can to get illegal heroin.

"Prescribing addicts heroin will not cure their addiction but it would allow them to live a more normal life away from crime.

"I think denying addicts their heroin is like refusing a diabetic their insulin.

"We are punishing the most vulnerable members of society, treating them as depraved when actually they are deprived.

"The awful truth is that most addicts will die of their addiction."

He claimed heroin in its pure form was a clean drug which did not harm the body like alcohol.

"Given a reliable supply, an addict can hide their dependency, just like I did.

"But it is illegal, and when my secret was discovered, I was suspended.

"I lost pretty much everything. I lost my home, my job, I lost my reputation."

DR Froggatt's campaign urging the Government to seize control of the drugs market away from the dealers, who collectively reap ยฃ5.6 billion a year from the illegal trade, is backed by former Cambridgeshire Chief Constable Tom Lloyd

Mr Lloyd said: "We are comprehensively losing the war on drugs. It is very frustrating.

"We must be spending about ยฃ1 billion a month on policing the drugs problem and it is a complete failure.

"Look at the last 30 to 40 years. Who is in charge of the drugs market in this country? The criminals are, and they must be laughing at us.

"They are winning the war, we win the occasional battle but when we do, somebody else steps up to take their place because the addict on the street still wants a fix."

Asked what the answer to the problem was, Mr Lloyd said: "Prescribe heroin, take back control from the drug dealers, reduce crime, reduce harm, and bring huge benefits all round."

Half of Britain's total crime is connected to drugs, and 70 per cent of prisoners are behind bars for drug-related offences.

Dr Froggatt said: "We repeatedly jail a few thousand addicts whose crimes have been committed to support their addiction."

He thinks that Britain should follow the example of countries such as Switzerland, which made heroin available legally 15 years ago and had witnessed a dramatic 90 per cent drop in addiction rates.

Dr Froggatt said: "Prescribing heroin has almost eradicated Switzerland's drug problem.

"Addicts can now live normal lives, and because heroin is no longer seen as cool and rebellious, far fewer young people are drawn to it in the first place."

He criticised the most commonly prescribed NHS treatment for addicts, the substitute substance methadone, because it was actually more addictive than heroin.

A Home Office spokeswoman said last night: "We do prescribe heroin in a very small number of cases, but there are no current plans to change the policy in this area."

The Insider: Heroin on the NHS is to be broadcast on Channel 4 at 7.30pm on August 3.