One of Britain's most successful charity leaders has been put on gardening leave and will leave his organisation imminently.
The sudden departure of Ian Charlesworth, managing director of the Shaw Trust, was announced last week.
"Ian is on gardening leave and will shortly be leaving our employment," said Catherine A'Bear, chief officer for corporate affairs at the charity.
She said the organisation, which provides employment for disabled people, would not make any further comment other than to say that Tim Pape, the charity's director general, had taken "direct line management responsibility" for senior executives. Pape was not available for comment.
An internal memo, signed by Pape and marked 'high priority' was sent to staff to inform them of Charlesworth's departure.
It said: "This is to let you know that Ian Charlesworth will shortly be leaving the trust's employment. With effect from today, he is on gardening leave."
It added: "There will be opportunities in the future to acknowledge the contribution Ian has made to the development of the Shaw Trust, but that is not the function of this communication."
Charlesworth joined the trust in 1997. He previously worked for the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council and West Riding County Council in Yorkshire.
His departure will surprise many people in the voluntary sector because of the trust's formidable reputation for winning contracts under his leadership.
It currently delivers more than 600 contracts and was the most successful third sector bidder last year when the Department for Work and Pensions awarded contracts for its Pathways to Work programme, which gets people on incapacity benefit into employment (Third Sector Online, 21 December 2007).
Over the past four years, the organisation's annual income has grown from £45m to £70m, more than 95 per cent of which is derived from contracts. Staff numbers have increased from 600 to 1,300 and the number of people assisted by the charity has increased from 15,000 to 60,000.