Yorkshire CCC to take no disciplinary action over report as Azeem Rafiq labels chairman Roger Hutton ‘disgrace’

YORKSHIRE say they are satisfied that no one working at Emerald Headingley – management, players or general employees – merits disciplinary action after an independent report into allegations of racism made by former player Azeem Rafiq.

By Chris Waters
Thursday, 28th October 2021, 6:04 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th October 2021, 6:57 pm
Azeem Rafiq, pictured in a pre-season warm-up game for Yorkshire back in April 2017. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Azeem Rafiq, pictured in a pre-season warm-up game for Yorkshire back in April 2017. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

The club admitted last month that there was “no question” that Rafiq was “the victim of racial harassment” during his first spell at Yorkshire from 2002 to 2014 and subsequently “the victim of bullying” after a year-long investigation upheld seven of 43 allegations.

But after an internal investigation following the report – overseen by club chairman Roger Hutton, who joined Yorkshire two years after Rafiq’s second spell at the club from 2016 to 2018 – Yorkshire have “come to the conclusion that there is no conduct or action taken by any of its employees, players or executives that warrants disciplinary action”.

Rafiq, a former England Under-19 captain, has called on Yorkshire board members to resign and suggested that the club be stripped of its international status and also its franchise in The Hundred tournament.

Azeem Rafiq, pictured in action for Yorkshire back in 2017. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

The 30-year-old is also alleging discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race, along with victimisation and detriment as a result of efforts to address racism at Headingley, as part of an ongoing employment tribunal process.

After Yorkshire issued a statement yesterday afternoon announcing that no one will be punished in the wake of the independent report, Rafiq branded Hutton “a disgrace” on Twitter and once more labelled the club “racist”.

The independent report, compiled by leading specialist employment barrister Rehana Azib and former Waitrose personnel director Helen Hyde, who were part of a five-strong panel chaired by Dr Samir Pathak, did not uphold Rafiq’s central allegation that the club is institutionally racist, determining that there was insufficient evidence to reach that conclusion, and rejected the claim that his release from the club was motivated by race as opposed to cricketing reasons.

The England and Wales Cricket Board followed up with a statement of its own, confirming it has now received the independent report some two months after initially requesting it, with a spokesperson for the governing body also confirming to The Yorkshire Post that this is the full report as opposed to the summary findings published last month, or the redacted version disclosed as part of the tribunal process.

Yorkshire CCC say nobody at Headingley merits disciplinary action after an independent report into allegations of racism made by former player Azeem Rafiq Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“The ECB has this afternoon received a copy of the report carried out on behalf of Yorkshire CCC into the allegations made by Azeem Rafiq, together with assurances from the club to cooperate fully with the ongoing regulatory process,” read the ECB statement.

“This is a matter with many serious allegations at its heart and the ECB’s regulatory team will now consider the report as part of its investigation. We anticipate that it will take time for the regulatory process to reach its conclusion, but it is imperative that this is completed thoroughly and with fairness to all involved.”

Yorkshire’s statement, which prompted an avalanche of criticism on social media, said in relation to the report: “The club is pleased to have disclosed a redacted version of the report as part of the ongoing employment tribunal proceedings on 8 October. Following this disclosure the club has also been able to provide a copy of the report to the ECB and is working with them on their investigation into the issues raised.

“The club is also keen to work with the ECB on issues of diversity and have offered their help to the ECB on what is such an important issue for the game as a whole. Ultimately, the issues raised by Azeem Rafiq are going to be considered not only by the panel but also the employment tribunal and the ECB.” The club reiterated that it has been unable to publish the full report – which names former players and coaches – for legal reasons.

Yorkshire’s handling of the affair from a PR perspective continues to be embarrassing and inept. The Yorkshire Post can reveal that there has been significant disagreement within senior management from the start as to how the club should have responded to Rafiq’s allegations, insisting there should have been more effort made to challenge them publicly, but key figures were overruled.

Some also wanted the report published and disagree with the panel’s findings in terms of Yorkshire’s culpability.