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The Archbishop of Canterbury's decision to turn down the role of vice-patron of the RSPCA will set back an organisation that has endured some negative recent press.
The animal charity has been accused of being heavy-handed in its approach to pet-owners and of allegedly pursuing criminal convictions to increase its revenue.
It was also accused of wasting public donations by spending £326,000 in pursuing legal action against fox hunters in the Cotswolds last year.
A spokeswoman for Lambeth Palace has explained the Archbishop of Canterbury's decision not to follow his predecessors in accepting the role of vice-patron of the RSPCA.
She added: "Nevertheless, the Archbishop has enormous admiration for the RSPCA and hopes to see its work thrive long into the future."
The Archbishop of Canterbury has broken with tradition and turned down a post as vice-patron of the RSPCA, which has faced criticism for its recent bullish pursuit of animal welfare issues.
The animal charity, which was founded by an Anglican priest in 1824, has been accused of wasting donations on legal action.
Lambeth Palace said the Most Rev Justin Welby has "enormous admiration" for the RSPCA but had declined the invitation as he has "reluctantly decided to restrict his patronage".