RSPCA's governance must be brought up to standard, says regulator

The Charity Commission was responding to the immediate departure of chief executive Jeremy Cooper, which was announced yesterday

RSPCA headquarters
RSPCA headquarters

The Charity Commission has said that the RSPCA’s governance should be "brought up to standard" after the charity’s chief executive departed with immediate effect.

The comments follow the news yesterday that Jeremy Cooper had stepped down with immediate effect from his role as chief executive of the charity after just a year in the role.

After Cooper’s departure was announced, a spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said: "The charity is undergoing and implementing a governance review. We have been engaging with the charity, both about this review and more generally about its administration and management.

"The RSPCA is a significant institution and it is important that its governance is brought up to the standard that the public would expect."

Cooper, who joined the RSPCA in 2013, became chief executive last year after a difficult period for the charity, including criticism from some sections of the national press for the for the successful prosecution of the Heythrop Hunt and the removal and euthanisation of a number of animals.

He replaced Gavin Grant, who stepped down in 2014 for health reasons after two years as chief executive.

Three trustees of the charity also stepped aside last year amid concerns about how the charity was being run.

In an interview with Third Sector last year after his appointment as chief executive, Cooper said he wanted to provide the society with a clear sense of direction after difficult period.

"The absence of a full leadership team and a permanent chief executive means we've been dealing with immediate priorities only," Cooper told Third Sector at the time. "So the first thing is to take stock and say where we want to go."

A source close to the situation told Third Sector that Cooper had been asked to leave immediately last week, but the charity said in a statement that he had chosen to move on.

Cooper’s LinkedIn page shows that he is now a strategic business consultant based in West Sussex.

Michael Ward, interim chief executive of the RSPCA, said today that the charity had made "great strides" in recent years.

"We have a new five-year strategy that sets out how we are going to prevent cruelty and create the conditions for improved animal welfare, while continuing to modernise our organisation," he said.

"My energy will be devoted towards us progressing our enduring mission to protect animals, prevent cruelty and alleviate suffering."

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