THE highly-paid boss of an animal charity has sparked fury by revealing he believes criticism of his huge pay-packet is unfair.
Scottish SPCA chief Stuart Earley sent a ranting email to staff after we revealed he was paid £216,000 in 2014.
The deal – which included his bonus on top of his basic wage – makes him one of the UK’s highest-paid charity chiefs.
But, in leaked emails, Mr Earley claims it is unfair to compare him to the likes of Prime Minister David Cameron, who earns £142,000 a year, or First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who’s on £135,000.
He wrote: “The media is always happy to point out that someone’s salary is greater than the Prime Minister’s but it tends to forget all the other perks that come with being Prime Minister such as a house in the middle of London and a country pile in Buckinghamshire and the various parliamentary allowances and chauffeur-driven cars.”
Scandal of animal charity fat cat: Scottish SPCA chief’s £216,320 pay deal as animals suffer – click here to read more
David Craig, charity campaigner and author of the Great Charity Scandal, slammed the defence.
Just last week it was revealed 1,080 executives at 1,000 of the UK’s largest charities were paid a six-figure salary. The disclosure prompted the chairman of the Charity Commission to warn the wages risked “losing public trust”.
Mr Craig said: “Mr Earley may feel that comparisons with the PM are invalid.
“But he can hardly argue that comparisons with the CEOs of similar animal charities are also irrelevant. None of them are paid anywhere near the same as he is.”
John Robins, of campaign group Animal Concern, is also incensed at the chief’s stance, which included claims he was tempted to leave charity work and return to the private sector because of the “witch hunt”.
He said: “Considering how much damage Mr Earley is doing to the good work of the Scottish SPCA perhaps he should consider it.”
Despite the backlash to his handsome pay, Mr Earley, who has overseen the closure of at least one animal shelter, believes widespread coverage of his remuneration “comes close to harassment”.
In his message to staff, he adds: “There’s an old quote that you should never let the facts get in the way of a good story and that applies to recent media coverage about my salary, which has been exaggerative to say the least.”
In our original story we revealed Earley was paid £216,000 in 2014, according to SSPCA accounts. We sought clarification on whether this six-figure sum related to his salary and were told it did prior to publication.
However, it later emerged the pay included a sizeable bonus payment and the charity demanded we change the story on our website to clarify this, which we did.
In the emails he sent out following our story he added he’d served in senior roles for almost 25 years and in all that time had “never been attacked in the media as I have in the last year with the latest batch of bile and untruths”.
A whistleblower who contacted us with the leaked internal documents said, given the large amount paid to the welfare body by members of the public, Mr Earley should expect to be held accountable.
They said: “Most of the employees of the Scottish SPCA are horrified and embarrassed at the huge salary taken by Stuart Earley.”
When we highlighted SSPCA boss Earley’s pay it led to Scottish Labour MSP Elaine Murray lodging a motion at the Scottish Parliament slamming his pay.
His furious officials then demanded the MSP withdraw the motion. But Scottish Labour refused.
Harry Haworth, chairman of the charity, responded: “Stuart Earley’s remuneration is set by the board of trustees.”
“In the board’s opinion, the benefit and success the society has achieved under his leadership merits it.”
Reader fury erupted after our story
OUR front-page story on executive pay at the Scottish SPCA prompted widespread reader fury.
It also prompted a number of weeks of stories about Earley’s leadership at the charity.
After our revelations we were contacted by frustrated donors unhappy at the pay deal.
Many said they were cancelling their direct debits to the charity in light of what they had read.
But we were also contacted by angry staff at the animal charity.
Those insiders painted a less-than-rosy picture of the organisation.
One told us the animal charity had turned into “a bloated business”.
Another said: “The staff within the Scottish SPCA work with incredible tenacity and enthusiasm to rescue, rehome and protect animals in Scotland.
“By educating children throughout the country, caring for animals within centres and through the day-to-day hard work on the front-line.
“One man’s salary is not a whole charity’s work. And, take it from someone who knows, not one person within the charity agrees with such a ludicrous salary.”
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