A TOURISM board has confirmed that two independent investigations are due to start into expenses and procedures as the Chairman of the Board stands down.

Welcome to Yorkshire has appointed two independent professional services businesses to undertake separate investigations into expenses and the culture, governance procedures and management of the organisation following the departure of CEO Sir Gary Verity.

The news comes as the Chairman of the Board, Ron McMillan, announced his resignation now the investigations have started. He will be replaced in the interim by current board member Keith Stewart, until the outcomes of the investigations are known, and any resulting recommendations can be implemented.

He said: “Now the appropriate investigations are in place, he felt it was the right time to step down to allow the organisation to move forward, this was supported by the Board. Welcome to Yorkshire is committed to making any changes which may be needed to help rebuild trust in the organisation, to support our team and continue to deliver world-class events in the region.

“In the interests of greater transparency, we will start by making all appropriate board meeting documents public in future, including agendas, papers and minutes. I am taking the chair on an interim basis and we recognise the need, moving beyond the immediate short term, to focus on recruiting an external chair together with improving the diversity of the board.”

The Northern Echo:

Sir Gary Verity

The investigation into expenses will be undertaken by independent forensic accountants BDO and by external lawyers Clarion into the culture, governance, procedures and management. It is hoped that both investigations will be completed by the end of June 2019. A report outlining the key themes, findings and recommendations will be made publicly available.

The terms of reference for the financial investigation include looking back at all expenses claimed by current and recent members of the senior management team and board and will review the policies, procedures and governance in relation to expenses with recommendations for improvement where necessary.

The behavioural and procedures investigation will examine the culture and governance procedures, management, and custom and practice in the company. As required, it will also look to make recommendations for possible improvements to our procedures moving forwards to ensure that our operations reflect best practice in future.

As part of the process, interviews will be held for past and present employees to confidentially share any experiences or views regarding the organisation and leadership team that they may wish to.