Scotland’s highest paid charity boss has resigned amid a storm of criticism over his huge pay packet, The Courier can reveal.
Animal welfare charity the Scottish SPCA has confirmed that chief executive Stuart Earley, 59, is to stand down with immediate effect following reports that his annual salary rose once more in the past year while the organisation’s income tumbled.
Mr Earley has come under intense scrutiny in recent months after it emerged that he pocketed more than £216,000 in 2015, easily dwarfing the pay of both First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – who is on £144,687 – and Prime Minister Theresa May, who earns £143,462.
That was made up of a wage of £185,000 and a bonus of £31,000, although it has since transpired that Mr Earley was handed a 3.2% salary increase for 2016 – taking his basic pay to a staggering £190,855.
Now it seems that the furore over the former aquarium boss’ finances has finally told, with Mr Earley’s resignation being accepted by the charity’s board.
SSPCA chairman Harry Haworth has thanked the departing CEO for his “invaluable contribution” to the organisation over the past nine years, and it is believed the process of finding a successor has already started.
The charity has repeatedly been forced to defend the pay of Mr Earley, who lives in a £800,000 home near the rescue centre in Fishcross, Clackmannanshire. The Courier understands there has been growing discontent privately among staff over negative headlines and the public’s perception of the charity as a whole.
Indeed, the situation has not been helped by the fact that Mr Earley’s pay has gone up at a time when the charity’s income has dropped by 5% year-on-year – from £14.38 million to £14.22 million last year.
A Scottish SPCA spokesman said: “I can confirm that Scottish SPCA chief executive, Stuart Earley, has decided to stand down in order to seek a new challenge.
“In light of Mr Earley’s decision, the SSPCA board has agreed that he will step down with immediate effect – allowing him to focus on his future plans and allowing the society to move forward with its own new chapter.
“SSPCA chairman Harry Haworth has thanked Mr Earley for his invaluable contribution to the positive transformation of the society over the past nine years.
“Mr Earley’s executive duties will be undertaken by SSPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn and David Webster, finance director, as interim joint CEOs until a successor is appointed.”
The scandal surrounding Mr Earley’s wage has previously been raised in the Scottish Parliament, with Labour MSP Elaine Murray lodging a motion at Holyrood slamming his pay after details were revealed in April.
Pressure group Animal Concern also described Mr Earley’s pay as “nothing short of ridiculous”.
“The Scottish SPCA cannot justify paying one person a salary that could pay for seven or eight good campaigners,” said spokesman John Robins.
“Yes, if you are good you deserve to be well paid but it should be reflective of what contemporaries in similar fields are getting paid.
“This ludicrous wage is clearly out of sync from what other animal charity CEOs get.”