England

Yorkshire tourism boss quits after expenses probe

Sir Gary Verity
Image caption Sir Gary Verity brought a number of high profile cycle races to Yorkshire

The head of a tourism board has resigned after an investigation found he had "made errors of judgement regarding his expenses".

Welcome to Yorkshire said chief executive Sir Gary Verity was leaving on "health grounds".

It added his resignation was not directly linked to concerns raised "in relation to his behaviour towards staff and his expenses".

The organisation thanked Mr Verity for his 10 years in charge.

In a statement, Welcome to Yorkshire said its board had investigated the allegations and "concluded that Sir Gary made errors of judgement regarding his expenses at a very difficult time for him and his family".

"Sir Gary has agreed to voluntarily reimburse Welcome to Yorkshire for monies owed."

The 54-year-old had held the role since October 2008, but rose to public prominence when he brought the world's biggest cycling race, the Tour de France, to Yorkshire in 2014.

He also instigated the annual Tour de Yorkshire race, the fifth edition of which will be staged in May, and led the way in securing the rights to host the UCI Road Cycling World Championships which will be staged in Yorkshire in September.

Analysis

Dan Roan, BBC Sports Editor

"This appears to be a major blow for British cycling.

Over the last decade tourism boss Sir Gary Verity has become an increasingly important and influential sporting figure, the driving force behind Yorkshire's emergence as the UK's unofficial capital of the sport.

Having brought the Tour de France's Grand Depart to the region in 2014, he then went on to establish the annual Tour de Yorkshire, and was credited with helping gender equality in cycling by doubling the length of the women's race in 2018, and increasing prize money and TV coverage.

His shock resignation is bad timing, just five weeks before the highest-profile edition of the event to date with four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome taking part and with the controversial launch of Team Ineos after the petrochemical company's takeover of Team Sky.

It also comes just a few months before Yorkshire hosts the road World Championships for the first time. He had been in talks with La Vuelta bosses to bring the start of the Spanish Grand Tour to the region as well.

Highly regarded in Whitehall, Verity had also been linked with the vacant chief executive roles at both the Premier League and the FA, but his health issues and the controversy of his departure mean he will no longer be a candidate for either job. Verity lost his sister to illness earlier this year, and had spoken publicly about the extent to which her death had affected him."

Mr Verity said he had 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," he said.

"My health is now my main priority. I ask for time and space to heal."

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