Jeremy Cooper has left the RSPCA with immediate effect after just over a year as its chief executive, becoming the third high-profile leader to leave suddenly since 2014.
The RSPCA had been without a permanent chief executive for over two years when Cooper was appointed last spring. The charity had faced criticism over its governance arrangements, with two trustees resigning in protest. It has also been criticised in the right-wing media for its prosecution activity.
RSPCA was ordered to carry out a governance review by the Charity Commission and Cooper had indicated in interviews given after his appointment as chief executive that he would take a less adversarial approach.
Before being promoted to chief executive Cooper had worked at the charity for three years.
The charity’s previous permanent chief executive Gavin Grant stood down, citing health reasons, in 2014. Shortly after that his deputy chief executive, John Grounds, also resigned.
Today the RSPCA confirmed that Cooper had left to “pursue other businesses opportunities” and that it has appointed its chief operating officer, Michael Ward, as interim chief executive.
In a statement the charity said: “After four years with the Society and over a year as chief executive of the RSPCA, it is with regret that we announce that Jeremy has decided to move on to pursue other business opportunities.
"Jeremy has been an asset to the team and has contributed to the continued success of the RSPCA. I am sure you will all join us in wishing him the very best for the future.
“The RSPCA is pleased to announce that it has appointed its chief operating officer, Michael Ward, as interim chief executive officer with immediate effect.”
Civil Society News has also asked about the progress of the governance review and been told to expect an update in "the next week or so".