THE RSPCA will stop being an "animal rights organisation", and will no longer fight fox hunting or badger culling, its new boss has said.

Jeremy Cooper said his arrival heralds a new direction for the charity, based in Southwater, near Horsham, that will in future try to "make friends and influence people" and depart from the fiery rhetoric deployed in the past.

The incoming chief executive said he wanted to see the number of prosecutions brought by the charity reduced and virtually eliminated for fox hunting.

The RSPCA, which is headquartered in Southwater near Horsham, infamously spent huge sums of money prosecuting Prime Minister David Cameron's local hunt the Heythrop.

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 said.

"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."

The dog owner and former RAF corporal has a background in the supermarket trade and took up the £150,000 a year post after it had been vacant for nearly two years.

The charity faced criticisms from unions over its lack of governance and the Charity Commission recommended it conduct an external, independent governance review.

The charity's next big campaign will be on tackling the illegal puppy trade, which Mr Cooper said was a "real problem".

"People may have had the perception we were becoming an animal rights organisation. It is not the reality now and it won't be in the future," he said.

"The [previous] leadership was too adversarial. If you want to shout and use rhetoric that's fine, but it isn't helpful to anybody. It is not going to 'make friends and influence people'. People won't like you for it."