RSPCA chief executive Jeremy Cooper quits job after a year

Jeremy Cooper Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jeremy Cooper has left the RSPCA to "pursue other business opportunities"

RSPCA chief executive Jeremy Cooper has left his job at the animal charity, just over a year into the role.

After his appointment in April 2016, Mr Cooper said the charity would take a new direction as it had become too adversarial.

Earlier this year he had outlined a new vision for the RSPCA with a five-year strategy.

The charity said in a statement Mr Cooper wanted to "pursue other business opportunities".

Last year the RSPCA was urged by MPs to rein in its role in prosecuting animal welfare cases.

Its policy of bringing private prosecutions rather than referring alleged offences to the Crown Prosecution Service had also been criticised in a parliamentary debate in 2013.

In 2012, it was criticised for spending £330,000 to privately prosecute a hunt.

Mr Cooper's departure comes less than two weeks before the charity's annual general meeting on 24 June.

An RSPCA statement 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."

'We made mistakes'

Chief operating officer Michael Ward has been appointed as interim chief executive with immediate effect.

The RSPCA went two years without a permanent chief executive after Gavin Grant left for health reasons in 2014.

After becoming the new boss in 2016, Mr Cooper told the Telegraph: "We have made mistakes. We have to be honest about that. We have to admit that and acknowledge that.

"The important thing when you make mistakes is what you do about it.

"We are going to be a lot less political. It doesn't mean we won't stand up for animals. But we are not a political organisation."

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