RSPCA in trouble with Charity Commission following chief exec’s departure

The Charity Commission has warned the RSPCA it could face regulatory action after the latest turmoil within the charity that saw the sudden departure of its chief executive.

Jeremy Cooper left his position as the charity’s chief executive this week after just over a year in the role. Mr Cooper (pictured right), previously chief executive ofRSPCA Assured, the charity’s food welfare labelling scheme, was considered to be a moderate figure who had promised to build bridges with the farming community after the damage done by his controversial predecessor Gavin Grant.

Responding to news of his departure, the Charity Commission issued a damning statement, warning the charity was losing public confidence because of its governance issues and suggesting it could take tougher action to ensure the findings of an inquiry it carried out into the charity’s are acted upon.

A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: “The governance of the RSPCA remains below that which we expect in a modern charity and we are concerned about the impact on public confidence.

“This has been brought into focus by the departure of the CEO and the clear recommendations of the charity’s independent governance review, which the Commission requested the charity carry out.

“We have written to the charity to make clear that we expect to see a swift action plan against these recommendations, which we will formally monitor, in order to resolve these issues. We will consider what further regulatory action may be required should improvements not be made with the necessary urgency.”

Last spring, just before Mr Cooper’s appointment the Charity Commission asked the RSPCA to carry out an inquiry into its organisation and structure. The commission said it wanted the RSPCA to carry out the review ‘to regularise current governance issues with the charity’.

An RSPCA spokeswoman said yesterday that the results of the review would be published soon, according to the Civil Society website.

The RSPCA has been under pressure on many fronts on recent years, suffering from falling membership, an internal battle over the direction of its its political campaigning, heavy criticism from the media over its handling of hunting and other prosecutions and relations with farmers that, particularly under Mr Grant, had become strained to breaking point.

Mr Cooper had planned to reform the organisation and introduced a five-year strategy for 2017-21, which emphasised the need to ‘create a modern, transparent and efficient organisation.

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.