Tonight a BBC Panorama documentary will highlight criticism about the RSPCA's prosections, leadership and governance, but the charity has said the report is "misleading".
The BBC Panorama programme, titled ‘Trouble at the RSPCA’, will show presenter John Sweeney meeting “people who accuse the RSPCA of being heavy-handed by prosecuting them and taking away their animals when help or advice would have been more appropriate”.
It will also look at the sudden resignation of its most recent chief executive Jeremy Cooper, and investigate "what's going on at the top of the charity”. It will also meet “former senior insiders who have concerns about the charity's governing council”.
In a statement on its website, the RSPCA said: “We understand that the programme will seek to portray an RSPCA that would not be recognised by its staff, volunteers, supporters or the many thousands of animals and people helped each year.”
It said the programme “will not recognise” the good work that the charity does “because it has chosen not to”.
‘Not a fair representation’
The RSPCA has said that the broadcast will not be a fair representation of the work it does, or how it does it. The charity said that the BBC has "told people who they tried to interview for the programme that that this is the case”.
It accused the BBC of “focusing on a small number of prosecution cases, handpicked for sensationalism, as well as the governance of the organisation”.
The statement continued: “Whilst we do not accept the intended portrayal by Panorama, we aren’t complacent about any aspect of the working or leadership of the organisation.
“We’re committed to continually improving everything we do as an organisation because we know that is the best way to achieve our charitable objectives of helping animals and people.”
‘Occasions when we get things wrong’
The RSPCA said it was proud of its track record on convictions, and that the figures speak for themselves, but it added: “Of course there are occasions when we get things wrong, as with any other organisation or individual. Where this happens we admit it, seek to learn from our mistakes and work hard to ensure we are better in the future.”
Speaking on its governance, the RSPCA said it is committed to the “very highest standards of governance”, and regularly reviews its governance practices. It spoke of the recent governance review which came back with 40 recommendations for the charity.
It said: “However, we recognise that there are some areas where improvement is required. Members voted overwhelmingly to accept these recommendations and trustees are actively implementing them”.
It continued: “Panorama has made certain allegations about individual trustees that are without foundation. Again the picture painted is distorted and misleading and simply intended to portray the Society in a negative light.”
BBC Panorama’s Trouble at the RSPCA will be shown tonight at 8pm on BBC One.