Animal welfare boss to step down

The controversial boss of animal charity the RSPCA has announced he is stepping down from his role, due to fears for his health.

Gavin Grant, chief executive of the RSPCA, was reported to be giving up his job with immediate effect because of medical concerns, although the charity was not commenting further.

Under his leadership, the charity has taken on a far greater campaigning role, which has attracted criticism, and some calls were made for it to be stripped of its powers to prosecute, following claims the organisation had become too political. An internal memo, leaked last year, suggested the charity was facing an internal crisis, with staff described as disillusioned.

Grant clashed repeatedly with the farming community over issues such as live export, but also the badger cull, after he suggested farmers who supported the controversial initiative should be named and shamed.

Commenting on his departure, 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.

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.

Peter Garbutt, chief livestock advisor with the National Farmers Union (NFU), said: "The NFU doesnt comment on personnel changes but our members have been concerned about the highly politicised, animal rights agenda of RSPCA for some time and we all hope that new leadership will give the RSPCA the opportunity to return to its more moderate core values which take into account and balance the welfare of all animals."

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