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Ex-boss of USPCA bailed over fraud claims

By Suzanne Breen

Published 15/09/2016

Stephen Philpott was sacked by USPCA for gross misconduct
Stephen Philpott was sacked by USPCA for gross misconduct

The former head of animal charity the USPCA, who was arrested by detectives investigating allegations of fraud, has been released on police bail.

Stephen Philpott was detained along with a 52-year-old woman in the Newry area of Co Down yesterday morning.

They were held for questioning at Banbridge PSNI station.

Both were later freed on bail pending further police enquiries.

The former USPCA chief executive was sacked by the charity earlier this year for gross misconduct.

Mr Philpott (53), who earned a salary of more than £80,000, was dismissed following an internal investigation into the management of the organisation he had headed for more than a decade.

As one of the most high-profile local charity bosses, he appeared regularly on the media to talk about animal cruelty issues.

A spokeswoman for the USPCA said yesterday: "We became aware of suspected irregularities in our organisation and passed the information on to the PSNI for investigation.

"The USPCA will offer every assistance to the PSNI whilst they carry out their enquiries into suspected fraud in the organisation.

"We thank our members and the public for their continued support at this time."

The animal charity, which celebrates its 180th anniversary this year, wrote to members in June informing them that Mr Philpott had been fired.

In a statement the organisation said: "The board of the USPCA have confirmed with great regret that the chief executive, Stephen Philpott, has been dismissed on grounds of gross misconduct.

"The dismissal related to aspects of his management of the charity following a comprehensive review conducted by an independent consultant, a full disciplinary hearing and exhaustive appeal process.

"An interim manager has been in place for a number of months and will continue to work closely with the board as they look at the management structure of the organisation going forward."

The USPCA said that the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland had been kept fully informed throughout the process.

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