THE chairman of the board at Welcome to Yorkshire has resigned as independent investigations start into the expenses and behaviour of former chief executive Sir Gary Verity.

Ron McMillan will be replaced as chairman by current board member Keith Stewart until the outcomes of the investigations are known, and any resulting recommendations can be implemented, said a spokeswoman for the tourism body.

Mr Stewart said: “We’d like to thank Ron for his time as chair and helping to oversee a hugely successful period in the growth of the Yorkshire tourism brand and the prosperity it has brought to the region, adding over £1billion in 2016-17 alone.

“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 spokeswoman said the investigation into expenses will be undertaken by independent forensic accountants BDO and external lawyers Clarion will examine the culture, governance, procedures and management.

"It is hoped that both investigations will be completed by the end of June 2019," she said.

"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.

Mr Stewart said: “It is imperative for everyone involved, from our team to our stakeholders and the wider members, that we look to foster a positive culture of leadership and support so that we ensure that we can reflect internally what has been done so well externally.

“This year we have an incredibly ambitious programme of events and will once again focus the eyes of the world on Yorkshire. We want to be able to continue this work long in to the future as part of an organisation that everyone can be rightfully proud of.”

Sir Gary resigned last month, at which time Welcome to Yorkshire revealed that concerns have been raised over both his behaviour towards staff and his expenses and said he had voluntarily agreed to reimburse it for monies owed.

Earlier this month, it announced that two external, independent organisations would be appointed to investigate his expenses and behaviour.

Sir Gary said last month he had "always tried to set the highest standards of personal performance and leadership", adding: “Where this has been achieved, I am grateful and when, on occasions, I have fallen short, I apologise.”