Tour de France boss ‘feels sad’ for tourism chief in expenses row

first_imgShare on LinkedIn The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage Support The Guardian Share on Facebook Share on Messenger Tour de France Read more Earlier this week the police said it was “not clear if any criminal offences have been committed”.The Lib Dem peer Lord Scriven, a former leader of Sheffield city council, has confirmed he had written to the police force’s chief constable, Dee Collins, to ask for a criminal inquiry to be launched.Scriven said he was “astounded and angry” the board had not called in the police.WTY is a private limited company but has received £14.9m of public funding since 2013, more than 50% of its annual turnover, according to figures released to the Guardian last week.Asked whether the public did not therefore have a right to know in detail how their money was spent, including by Verity in his expenses, Stewart said: “The public have a right to know in general terms how we spend our money. And of course some of it is extremely visible on an annual basis because of the huge number of events we put on. As soon as these investigations are completed, we will report back. We have nothing to hide.”The board had been aware of Verity’s expense “issues” since January, according to Stewart. He said further issues had come to light since Verity’s resignation “in terms of the behaviour allegations”.Various former WTY employees have spoken of being bullied by Verity, who was ordered to undergo behavioural management counselling by the board in 2016 after a complaint. He had already been disciplined by the board after another allegation in 2014.Helen Long said she had been one of Verity’s many short-lived PAs and accused him of “mental torture” and of constantly “berating” her during the five months she worked for him. She told the Yorkshire Post she had been prescribed antidepressants after she left.Long questioned WTY’s judgment in buying a huge advert wrapped around the Yorkshire Post on Wednesday, which pictured a yacht, its sail emblazoned with the WTY logo, sailing past the Statue of Liberty. “A luxury yacht on the front page is not exactly the message to send at this time, or any other time!” she tweeted.The advert covered up the “real” front page, which included a story about police taking an interest in Verity’s expenses. “I can’t comment on when that was printed,” said Stewart.Asked if Verity had become “too big to criticise”, Stewart said: “No one is too big to criticise. Yes, Gary had a huge personality, and because of that the success of WTY is down in no small way to him.”He said WTY had begun the search for Verity’s successor. “I’m sure that person will be different and set a different tone.”Asked if the new boss would inherit Verity’s £243,000 salary, Stewart declined to comment. 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Reuse this content Since you’re here… Local government Share on Pinterest Share via Email Cycling Share on WhatsApp Share on Twitter The Tour de France director has paid tribute to Sir Gary Verity, the tourism boss who brought the race to Yorkshire but who resigned last month in an expenses scandal, repaying a reported £40,000.Christian Prudhomme, who became friends with Verity after the 2014 Yorkshire Grand Départ, told a gathering in Leeds: “I cannot help but feel sad for the man who made me discover your beautiful county, for the man who brought together our ‘ooh la la’ with your ‘ee bah gum’, the man who made me love Yorkshire: mon ami, Gary Verity.”Board members from Welcome to Yorkshire (WTY), which Verity had led since 2008, refused to confirm or deny that he had misclaimed at least £40,000 before his abrupt departure two weeks ago.Asked how a person could accidentally claim £40,000 in expenses, Keith Stewart, a board member for five years, said he could not discuss the figure because of “legal considerations”.On Tuesday WTY announced two independent investigations into allegations of Verity’s bullying behaviour and his expenses. They also had an apparent change of heart about police involvement, contacting West Yorkshire police to alert them of the two inquiries.Shortly after Verity’s departure on 22 March, the chair of the board, Ron McMillan, released a statement saying he believed that Verity had “made errors of judgment” and that the expenses “did not require police investigation”.last_img read more