POLICE were called after the former executive officer of a Hampshire rescue group was found trying to gain entry to its headquarters.

Philip Pearce-Smith, pictured, who founded the Lepe-based League of Venturers 50 years ago, is involved in a bitter power struggle with his successor.

The new executive officer is Martin Bennett, one of the charity’s three trustees.

However, Mr Pearce-Smith has reappointed himself director of a limited company within the Venturers after criticising the way the service was run. The Venturers have temporarily ceased operating as a result of the dispute.

A police spokesman confirmed officers were called to the lifeboat station after he was found trying to gain entry to the premises. He added: “Mr Pearce-Smith said he was the company director and stated that he was allowed access to the building, but a third party present denied that this was the case.”

Mr Pearce-Smith, 79, of Long Lane, Holbury, refused to discuss the incident.

Mr Bennett said: “The three trustees are still running the Venturers, and no he [Mr Pearce-Smith] has not taken over.”