Sir Gary Verity resigns amid expenses investigation

Sir Gary Verity has asked for “time and space to heal” after resigning as chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire with immediate effect.

He has led the tourism agency since 2008, but the organisation has now revealed that “concerns have been raised in relation to his behaviour towards staff and his expenses”.

Sir Gary “has agreed to voluntarily reimburse Welcome to Yorkshire for monies owed”, the agency said, without disclosing how much will be repaid. The most recent published accounts, for the 2018 financial year, showed he earned more than £240,000.

In a statement issued on Friday night, Welcome to Yorkshire said: “As a responsible organisation Welcome to Yorkshire takes all allegations very seriously.

“The board has investigated these and concluded that Sir Gary made errors of judgement regarding his expenses at a very difficult time for him and his family.”

Sir Gary’s sister, Lindsay, died in January.

The manner of his departure will come as a surprise, just weeks after it was reported in national newspapers that he was being considered for the role of Premier League chief executive.

Sir Gary has often divided opinion, with supporters giving almost sole credit for bringing the Tour de France’s Grand Depart to Yorkshire in 2014, which led to the annual Tour de Yorkshire cycling race.

But detractors pointed to his brash and direct style which did not always sit well running an organisation which was funded by both the public sector and members’ support.

Sir Gary Verity, who was knighted in 2015 and appointed a deputy lieutenant last May, said: “Over the last ten and a half years I have always tried to set the highest standards of personal performance and leadership.

“Where this has been achieved, I am grateful and when, on occasions, I have fallen short, I apologise. My health is now my main priority. I ask for time and space to heal.”

Welcome to Yorkshire thanked Sir Gary for his “commitment and energy” over the last 10 years.

It added: “Sir Gary has led the transformation of Yorkshire’s profile, most notably through the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in 2014 and the subsequent legacy of the Tour de Yorkshire, which have significantly boosted the county’s economy. We wish him well for the future.”