Former Co-operative Group boss Euan Sutherland has spoken out about quitting the mutual and criticises officials for their reluctance to reform.

Sutherland, who has been at the helm of The Co-operative for just 10 months, told the BBC that his resignation had been long considered.

He said leaks to the newspapers over the weekend about his £3m annual pay packet had tipped him over the edge. Sutherland believes the disclosure came from someone on the board, which he believes has been blocking his attempts to reform the organisation.

“The senior democrats [as elected Co-op officials are often called] talk the talk of reform, but in practice they won’t do it,” he said.

Further leaks to the press included Sutherland’s proposals to dispose of the Co-op’s farms and pharmacies.

Sutherland said he hoped his resignation would highlight the difficulties at the Co-op and that it is a long way from mended. “My hope is that from the resignation will come healthy reform,” he said.

He insisted that four senior executives led by him – including the finance director Richard Pennycook, who has replaced Sutherland as interim group chief executive – were “there for the pride of revitalising the Co-op”.

He added: “We want it to become a campaigning organisation again, especially in communities. And it has to be for more than just the 600 activists, but also for the millions of members and customers.”

He wants the remaining executives to implement the reforms to the management structure and governance being prepared by Lord Myners, the former fund manager and City minister.

Those reforms would result in the empowerment of the group’s executives and, to a degree, sideline elected officials.