Welcome to Yorkshire: Sir Gary Verity's expenses 'should be probed'

Sir Gary Verity Image copyright PA
Image caption Sir Gary Verity resigned from Welcome to Yorkshire after 10 years as chief executive

A peer has called for a police inquiry into the expenses claims of Welcome to Yorkshire's former chief executive.

Sir Gary Verity resigned on health grounds on 22 March but since his departure concerns have been raised about his expenses.

Lord Paul Scriven said he was "astounded and angered" the Welcome to Yorkshire board was not asking police to investigate the expenses.

Police said it was "not clear if any criminal offences have been committed".

Sir Gary's legal team said he "made errors of judgement, it was nothing more than that".

The BBC has been told Sir Gary repaid more than £40,000 to the tourism body.

Following a board meeting on Tuesday, Welcome to Yorkshire announced two independent investigations into Sir Gary's expenses and behaviour since his appointment in 2008.

A spokesperson said the board had written to West Yorkshire Police to inform it of the external investigations.

Lord Scriven said he "welcomed" the announcement.

Image copyright Local Democracy Reporting Service
Image caption Lord Scriven has called for a police inquiry into Sir Gary Verity's expenses at Welcome to Yorkshire

The Local Democracy Reporting Service reported Lord Scriven as saying that Welcome to Yorkshire had received "£14.9m of taxpayers' money" in the last five years.

"Sheffield Council has paid £50,000 per year over the last three years for membership subscription to Welcome to Yorkshire," he said.

"Gary Verity was paid £243,000 a year. It is now clear that he claimed expenses that he was not entitled to.

"I am both astounded and angry that the board of Welcome to Yorkshire has refused to hand this over to the police to investigate possible crimes with regards to these expense claims."

Lord Scriven added he had contacted the chief constable of West Yorkshire Police and "asked her force to investigate this issue to see if criminal charges can be brought".

Lawyers representing Sir Gary said: "Expenses were submitted in the ordinary course and signed off.

"However, on review it was agreed that some errors had been made and Sir Gary was content to agree to voluntarily reimburse Welcome to Yorkshire for monies owed."

When his resignation was announced, Sir Gary 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.

Lord Scriven also called for the resignation of the chairman of Welcome to Yorkshire Ron McMillan, saying he had "shown a serious lack of judgment by refusing to call in the police".

West Yorkshire Police said: "At this time it is not clear if any criminal offences have been committed, and for this reason we are seeking to meet representatives from Welcome to Yorkshire at the earliest opportunity to discuss the matter further."

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