Rose Gibb accused health secretary Alan Johnson of 'hounding' her after the Healthcare Commission published its critical report.

"I have been hounded, victimised and demonised by the press, by the local NHS and... by the secretary of state," she said.

She believed she was made a scapegoat and was unable to speak out publicly because of a gagging clause in the severance agreement.

"I could have used radio, papers, TV... I could have responded to the accusations [from the media].

"Quite clearly, people wanted to have a head and to manage the report by having my head.

"I had no support from anyone in the NHS in handling the massive gang of media who were camping outside my door for days and days."

Ms Gibb cried briefly as she gave evidence about the 1 October meeting in which trust chair James Lee and deputy chair Aaron Cockell told her she had to go. Until this point, she had intended to stay at the trust and had the board's support, she said.