The RSPCA has re-advertised its chief executive position after three candidates pulled out of the recruitment process for the role, according to reports.
The Mail on Sunday reported yesterday that three leading contenders for the job had passed on the role and that interviews had taken place some months ago but did not produce results. The newspaper said the recruitment process had cost the animal welfare charity £30,000 to date.
The RSPCA, which has been without a chief executive since its former chief Gavin Grant left for health reasons in February 2014, is reportedly finding it difficult to recruit a replacement for Grant because that person would need to be answerable to the charity’s elected council.
A spokeswoman for the charity declined to comment on the reports.
The council contains several members who have been described as "radical" in the mainstream media, including a vegan who compared farming to the Holocaust and a man who said he wanted pet owners to sit exams. This is thought to be deterring would-be applicants.
The recruitment agency Saxton Bampfylde placed an advert for a new chief executive in The Sunday Times last week.
The closing date is 19 November and the salary is not stated, although the MoS reported that this was likely to be about £150,000.
David Canavan, a trustee of the charity and vice-chair of its council, has been acting as the RSPCA’s chief executive since earlier this year. this has included representing the charity to MPs on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee as part of the inquiry into charity fundraising in September.
Before his election to the council, Canavan was the charity’s director of corporate development and enterprise.
A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said the regulator had met the RSPCA on a number of occasions. She said it understood the reasons for the temporary arrangements the charity had put in place but had urged the council "to move forward to a more conventional form of governance, which the charity is in the course of doing".
She said that a more conventional form of governance entailed having a dedicated chief executive rather than a trustee filling the role on a temporary basis.
The RSPCA spokeswoman said in a statement: "The recruitment process for a chief executive has to be a measured, thorough process and is currently ongoing. As soon as we can update on this we will."
She said Canavan would lead the charity until someone had been appointed on a permanent basis. She said Canavan received no salary for doing the job and was paid only expenses.
She declined to confirm or deny the information in The Mail on Sunday's report.
When Grant left the charity more than 18 months ago, the RSPCA said that its director of marketing and campaigns, John Grounds, would represent the charity externally and cover its public commitments in the interim. But Grounds left the charity six weeks later.