The conservation charity World Animal Protection has declined to explain the departure of its chief executive Mike Baker, who left at short notice last week, according to sources.
The sources said staff were told on Thursday that Baker, who had been in the role for six years, would be leaving the charity at the end of September. But his desk appeared to have already been cleared and he did not seem to be in the office, they said.
A spokeswoman for the charity declined to provide any reasons for his departure. "Mike Baker has taken the decision to stand down," she said in a statement. "We are grateful for his hard work in this role and his commitment to animal protection."
The spokeswoman said Baker, who oversaw the charity’s rebrand from the World Society for the Protection of Animals, would not receive a payoff on leaving the charity.
The company review site Glass Door has many reviews from people who claim to be former employees and are critical of Baker and the charity’s management.
The World Animal Protection spokeswoman said: "We are aware of the criticisms on this website and will continue to work with our staff to address any issues that may be of concern to them.
"We believe it is the right of every current and past employee to post their personal opinion on this website, but we prefer to engage with our staff directly."
Steve McIvor, director of programmes at World Animal Protection, will take over as acting chief executive while Baker’s successor is appointed.
The spokeswoman said: "Steve will continue to drive World Animal Protection’s programmatic work, most immediately the next phase of Wildlife, Not Entertainers – the global campaign that will stamp out the cruel abuse of wildlife in entertainment, launching on 4 October, World Animal Day."
World Animal Protection recorded a total income of £34.5m and an expenditure of £35m in 2014, according to its accounts filed with Companies House. It also made losses of £1.1m in 2013 and £3.3m in 2012. But it recorded a surplus of £5.3m in 2011.