The head of a leading RNIB Scotland has resigned in the wake of a furious internal row over the transfer of staff to a London based charity.

John Legg, the charity's director in Scotland had led it for more than 10 years.

He was known to have opposed RNIB UK's move to effectively run its Scottish operation from London under the auspices of a partner charity Action for Blind People, a decision which was viewed by many staff and members north of the border as an English 'takeover'.

Former RNIB Scotland chair Ken Reid was also known to oppose the move, and Mr Reid's successor Sandra criticised its timing and the failure to consult the charity's members in Scotland.

While RNIB UK insist that Mr Legg left by choice, speculation is rife as to how and why his departure has come about. He announced that he was leaving in an email to staff, and is currently on leave, but is expected to remain in post until the end of the month.

One employee, who now works for Action, along with more than 200 other former RNIB Scotland workers, said staff were shocked and dismayed. "No reason was given for this, but obviously there's speculation among staff here that he was pushed for not toeing the party line about Action.

"It's possible John just had enough of it and decided to go on his own volition, but we all think it most likely he was told his position was untenable.

"All of us in RNIB Scotland were stunned on hearing this. John was a hugely liked and respected boss, someone who was very supportive of his staff. He will be an extremely hard act to follow. He did a great deal for people with sight loss during his time as director, with some very real achievements."

Despite strong opposition north of the border, RNIB UK has insisted the move, which was concluded last month, is purely administrative, as Action is already part of the RNIB Group.

But the change has been criticised as going against the trend of many charities enhancing their Scottish operations at a time when politically, Holyrood is gaining greater powers. The RNIB Scotland 'brand' is being retained for fund-raising purposes.

Leaked contents from a consultation carried out after the decision was taken revealed staff misgivings, and trade union Unison critised a lack of transparency about the business case for transferring staff.

Mr Legg's departure comes after a stormy meeting last month in Edinburgh during which RNIB Group chief executive Lesley Anne Alexander faced angry members of RNIB Scotland, but insisted the change would go ahead.

In a statement, an RNIB UK spokesman confirmed that Mr Legg had decided to leave the charity and said this was because he wished to develop his career elsewhere after ten years at the helm.

He added: "John has led a strong team that has tripled RNIB Scotland’s reach develop an array of award-winning services and set new benchmarks for service delivery and service user engagement. Major milestones include the launch of Insight Radio, the Haggeye youth forum, the development of services for people with sight loss and additional needs, the opening of employment and learning hubs and the refurbishment the charity’s Edinburgh and Lothian centre. Most recently ‘Techshare Europe’ is now widely recognised as one of the technology highlights of the year.

"At a national level John has made a huge contribution to the work of the Cross Party Group on Visual Impairment, the Scottish Eyecare Group, the Scottish Vision Strategy and establishing Vision Support Services across Scotland in partnership with voluntary and statutory bodies.

"We wish John well in his future endeavours. We are now in the process of recruiting a new director to the role," he added.