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The head of the RSPCA has quit after just over a year in the role.

Jeremy Cooper stepped down as chief executive this month. His resignation was revealed on 12 June, less than two weeks ahead of Friday’s (24 June) annual general meeting.

The charity’s chief operating officer, Michael Ward, has stepped up to the position of interim chief executive.

The news came days after the Charity Commission published its review of the RSPCA’s governance.

“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,” said a statement from the charity.

“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.”

Mr Ward added he is “very honoured” to be asked to take on his new role.

“The society has made great strides in recent years,” said Mr Ward.

“We have a new five-year strategy which sets out how we are going to prevent cruelty and create the conditions for improved animal welfare, whilst continuing to modernise our organisation.

“My energy will be devoted towards us progressing our enduring mission to protect animals, prevent cruelty and alleviate suffering.”

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The Charity Commission recommended the RSPCA slash its number of elected council members and ensure a code of conduct is reviewed and abided by.

It also stresses that it draws “a line under the perceived problems of the past” and that individuals must be ready to move on and focus on looking forward.

The RSPCA has responded to the Charity Commission review’s findings and said that the charity “is not complacent”.

“The council of the RSPCA is committed to the very highest levels of governance,” said a charity spokesman.

“As such, an independent expert review of the society’s existing governance arrangements was commissioned to ensure they are as effective as possible and in line with best practice.

“While we are pleased that the review has recognised that the RSPCA is financially stable, is delivering on its important mission and has set in place measures to manage compliance and risk, we are not complacent.

“The review has highlighted a number of improvement opportunities and we are already taking steps to implement the recommendations.

“We believe that this will put the RSPCA in a stronger position to deliver its strategy and vision of working to prevent cruelty and alleviate suffering of animals.”

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