Hospital bosses at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust have launched an investigation into allegations that a senior hospital official ordered a consultant to play down failures in treatment after a young man died from an undiagnosed ruptured spleen.

Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust chief executive Antony Sumara said he had suspended board secretary and head of legal services Kate Levy after it was alleged that she sent a memo to a doctor presiding over a coroner’s report ordering him to “avoid stressing possible failures on the part of the trust”.

The allegations concern the death of 20 year old John Moore-Robinson, who was sent home from Stafford Hospital in April 2006 with painkillers following a mountain biking accident. Mr Moore-Robinson died hours later from an undiagnosed ruptured spleen.

Senior consultant Ivan Phair said Mr Moore-Robinson’s treatment would probably be described as “negligent” by an independent expert and described his death as an “avoidable situation”.

Ms Levy allegedly sent another note to Dr Phair saying such a statement “is not one I wish to see quoted in the press”.

Mr Sumara said Ms Levy had been formally suspended “pending a full investigation into the allegations raised”.