A former charity chief executive who became the focus of 'fat cat' claims over his £216,000 salary has dropped an unfair dismissal claim against the SSPCA.

Stuart Earley was reported to have quit the job at the head of the animal charity, which he had done for nine years, in November 2015, in the wake of concerns would-be donors were being deterred by the size of his earnings.

However it has emerged that he was actually sacked, and has since been pursuing the SSPCA with claims of age and disability discrimination and unfair dismissal.

The SSPCA - which was reported to have paid him an additional £100,000 when he left his post, without requiring him to serve a notice period - stressed that there had been no out of court settlement involved in the withdrawal of his claims.

A basic salary of £185,000 and a pension payment of £31,000, made Mr Earley the highest-paid charity boss in Scotland, and better paid than very many in similar roles in England.

The SSPCA and the chief executive himself defended the payments on the basis of his record in improving the performance of the animal rescue and protection charity.

However his salary - which exceeded that of the prime minister and that of first Minister Nicola Sturgeon - angered donors and infuriated staff,

He left after negotiating a 3.2 per cent rise at a time when SSPCA staff were awarded just 1.2 per cent. However donations to the charity in 2015 dropped by five per cent and income from wills and legacies had also reportedly been hit.

In an email to staff on his departure, racehorse owner Mr Earley said he had turned down several opportunities to work in the private sector and claimed coverage of his income in the media came close to harassment.

In May this year, he put his seven-bedroom Clackmannanshire home on the market for £1.1m.

When he left the SSPCA praised his "invaluable contribution" and implied he had left by mutual consent. However a claim for age and disability discrimination, breach of contract and unfair dismissal was lodged with the Employment Tribunal service. A notice just posted on the service's website reveals the claim was dropped last month.

Scottish SPCA Chairman Harry Haworth said: “There was a misunderstanding after the former Chief Executive left the Society, which was resolved. The Tribunal claims were withdrawn. The Society did not make any payment in respect of those claims.”

In May, Kirsteen Campbell, formerly of Skills Development Scotland, was announced as Mr Earley's successor .