RSPCA's top dog departs after a year leading animal charity

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The chief executive of the RSPCA has left the charity after just over a year in the top role.

Jeremy Cooper took the reins of the animal welfare charity last April and said his arrival would herald a new direction for the charity.

Mr Cooper said at the time he wanted to see a departure from the fiery rhetoric used in the past and said the society would try to "make friends and influence people".

On Monday evening, the RSPCA confirmed Mr Cooper had left to "pursue other business opportunities" and chief operating officer Michael Ward would serve 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."

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph at the time of his appointment, Mr Cooper said he wanted to see the number of prosecutions brought by the charity reduced and virtually eliminated for fox hunting.

The RSPCA infamously prosecuted the Heythrop, former prime minister David Cameron's local hunt, with success coming after huge sums were spent.

The charity also attracted negative publicity for its failed prosecution of a family for alleged cruelty to its cat.

"We have made mistakes," Mr Cooper told the newspaper.

"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."