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RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant stands down due to 'ill health'

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: February 25, 2014

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The boss of one of Britain’s best-loved animal charities has stepped down for health reasons.

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant has left with immediate effect “because of medical concerns about his health”, the charity said.

Mr Grant joined the animal welfare charity in January 2012, but during his short tenure it faced a number of controversies.

In 2012 the RSPCA was heavily criticised after it emerged that it had spent £326,000 on legal action against a fox hunt.

Critics claimed the ”staggering” expense of bringing the prosecution against the Heythrop Hunt in the Cotswolds was a waste of the money donated to the charity by members of the public.

Mr Grant was forced to deny that the prosecution was “political”.

He also faced questions over his salary after the charity’s annual accounts showed that he earned between between £150,000 and £160,000.

The Daily Mail reported that Mr Grant was paid between £30,000 and £50,000 more than his predecessor, Mark Watts.

Amid the controversy, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, turned down a request to become a patron of the charity – breaking a long-standing tradition between the charity and the Church. His predecessor, Dr Rowan Williams, was vice-patron of the RSPCA, which was founded by Anglican priest the Rev Arthur Broome in 1824.

The RSPCA said Mr Grant had been “instrumental” in raising the profile of the charity.

When he joined the charity in 2012 it was the second time he had worked for the RSPCA – between 1988 and 1991 he was its director of campaigns and communications.

Mr Grant said: “It has been a huge honour to have held this post. The RSPCA is a magnificent organisation at the heart of what is the very best in humanity.

“The society is blessed with great people, both paid and volunteer. I wish it well as it continues to face huge challenges in ensuring it is ever stronger and able to meet the needs of our fellow creatures.”

RSPCA chair of trustees Mike Tomlinson said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Gavin on behalf of myself and my fellow trustees for the very significant contribution he has made to the society for a second time in his career.

“His drive, passion and deep love and respect for animals have impressed all that have come into contact with him.

“I would like to assure everyone that our day-to-day work for animals continues as usual. The society’s trustees will announce next steps regarding recruitment of Gavin’s successor in due course.”

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5 comments

  • Nimrod1  |  February 26 2014, 8:40PM

    It is clear that under Grant the RSPCA lost its way, pursuing unpopular prosecutions and spending exorbitant sums of money, while rescue shelters closed due to lack of funds. I do not think Mr Grant will be missed.

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  • Animalwelfare  |  February 26 2014, 6:36PM

    What will Gavin Grant's tenure be best remembered for, I suspect for the combative, increasingly animal rights driven agenda, and for his war against Rich, Tory hunters, as someone who doesn't hunt, even I can see that the campaign is driven by the mistaken belief that all hunters are Tory Toffs. and so belying the very nature of the left wing element that has taken over so many once worth charities and institutions, only today in a Radio 4 interview, Jay Tiernan justified the hunting act on the basis that people who hunt are rich, even if that were true, its hardly a sound foundation for a solid animal welfare argument against hunting. I don't dispute that the hunting fraternity is ferocious in its attack on the RSPCA and Gavin Grant , but the fuel for that attack has been provided on the whole by the RSPCA themselves, by their use of prosecution as a point scoring tool, also Grants unfortunate habit of letting his Liberal past colour his current role and his propensity for opening his mouth wide and placing his foot in it, I'm thinking in particular of his statements that farmers allowing badger culls on their land should be named and shamed etc, etc. Many people do have the greatest respect for RSPCA's role in society, unfortunately during his time as CEO, that core of supporters has been chipped away at by policies that do not sit well with a very many people, prosecutions of hunters at great cost for little return, other than proving a point, prosecutions of pensioners. censure from the advertising agency, calls for them to be stripped of prosecution powers, indeed allegations that they misuse those powers. As much as RSPCA supporters blame their ills on bloodthirsty hunters, the fact is, the RSPCA has forgotten it's a charity and now styles it's self as an animal police force.

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  • animalnut  |  February 26 2014, 8:37AM

    It will take a good man to undo all the damage that Grant has done, making enemies of farmers, and threatening anyone who dared oppose him was not the best way to operate. Someone with a little more tact and a lot less bombast would be a good start.

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  • C_Freak  |  February 25 2014, 5:21PM

    Down this way we ses, good riddance to bad rubbish.

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  • groundnut  |  February 25 2014, 4:24PM

    Many people have the greatest respect for the role in society and the day to day work carried out by the staff and volunteers of the RSPCA. Gavin Grant acknowledges that view when for Health reasons he has been obliged to stand down. Whatever the controversies surrounding some aspects of his tenure. He engaged fully with his critics in a very increasing world of animal abuse, neglect and illegal activities. An area where still the majority of the UK public will continue to offer its support. To do this he had to take on some high profile organised opponents, in the form of well-funded, powerful organisations and some sections of the media. I am sure that when selecting his successor the RSPCA will be fully aware of the continuing enormous and sometimes controversial role of any new CEO. Choose carefully, this is no role for simply a figurehead.

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