BRITAIN’S leading animal welfare charity is being so badly governed it is damaging public confidence, an official watchdog has said.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals now faces “further regulatory action” which could include the imposition of new management after a damming report by the Charity Commission.
The intervention by the Commission came after the sudden departure of Jeremy Cooper, the RSPCA’s chief executive, after just over a year, plunging the charity into disarray.
He is understood to have clashed with more militant members of the RSPCA’s 25-strong governing council over his more softly-softly approach.
He wanted a less adversarial style and had apologised for the aggressive tactics of previous management.
Mr Cooper, a moderniser, was appointed to the £150,000-a year post last April, promising reforms after a barrage of criticism.
A 20-page internal report into the RSPCA has made a series of recommendations, with sources saying it has highlighted serious failings in the governance of the £140m-a-year charity.
In a statement the Charity Commission 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.”
It added: “We will consider what further regulatory action may be required should improvements not be made with the necessary urgency.”
The Charity Commission could appoint an interim manager to run the charity if changes are not made.
Mr Cooper quit the charity suddenly without working out his notice period, according to sources.
One source claimed he had been asked to leave “immediately”.
Bill Oddie, the RSPCA’s vice president and former BBC wildlife presenter, admitted Mr Cooper’s departure did not look good for the charity and described the ruling council as “unwieldy”.
Penny Little, a prominent RSPCA member who began a petition to have Mr Cooper removed from his post a year ago, said: “When you have a chief executive come in and make the comments he did at the time you could be forgiven for thinking he had been allowed to be intimidated.”
The RSPCA said it was “working closely” with the Charity Commission.