Former Yorkshire and England youth cricketer Azeem Rafiq first blew the whistle on his experience with racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club in 2020 during an interview with Taha Hashim for Wisden.
Yorkshire then conducted their own independent investigation where only seven of Rafiq’s 43 allegations were upheld and they announced that while the former spinner had been a victim of “racial harassment and bullying”, no one would face disciplinary action.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), chaired by Julian Knight MP, found the results of Yorkshire’s report to be far from adequate and on 16 November 2021 a select committee hearing took place which involved hearing evidence from the former youth captain of England’s Under-19 cricket team as well as YCCC’s former chairman Roger Hutton and members of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to answer questions in an environment free from civil or criminal action.
Who attended the DCMS committee hearing?
Rafiq was the first to be heard at the hearing which started at 9.30am GMT on Tuesday 16 November 2021 and gave further evidence on his time with Yorkshire.
Rafiq moved to England from Pakistan at the age of 10 and began playing for Yorkshire in 2008. He has had two stints with the club between 2008-2014 and 2016-2018. The off-spinner was released from the northern county shortly after his wife gave birth to a stillborn son.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Rafiq and his sister began to provide food for the NHS and key-workers in Barnsley to raise money for a local hospice. This money has led to the siblings being able to set up a tea-shop and a fish and chip shop.
The 30-year-old bowler is also a qualified cricket coach.
Rafiq has 72 wickets in First Class cricket from his 39 matches and as well as 102 T20 wickets for Yorkshire.
The former youth captain first claimed to report incidents of racism to Yorkshire in 2018 but nothing was done until the release of his Wisden interview in 2020.
Roger Hutton was the YCCC chairman until 5 November 2021. He is a former English cricketer and played first class cricket for the White Rose county.
Hutton, whose father was cricketer Len Hutton, took on the chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket role in April 2020 but resigned from his post having been under pressure to step down since the release of the county’s independent investigation.
Hutton, 79, claimed to have reached out to the ECB after he was aware of Rafiq’s allegations of racism but felt that there was a “reluctance to act”.
The former player was asked to attend the DCMS hearing in order to respond to questions about the report and Yorkshire’s response to the report.
Having previously stated that there was no-one at YCCC he would “personally consider racist”, in his response to the DCMS hearing he is now of the belief that the club is institutionally racist.
Tom Harrison and Barry O’Brien
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison and ECB chairman Barry O’Brien were both due to give evidence relating to the ECB’s role in Yorkshire’s racism scandal as well as its complaints procedure and implications for the wider cricket.
Harrison is a former Northamptonshire and Derbyshire cricketer and first entered his current role in January 2015. The 49-year-old closed the four-hour hearing which took place at Portcullis House, Westminster and covered Azeem Rafiq’s allegations.
Barry O’Brien pulled out of the hearing at the last minute due to ill-health. O’Brien was one of the UK’s leading corporate lawyers and had previously been the chairman for Glamorgan cricket. He took up the post of ECB chair in 2018.
Julian Knight, MP
Julian Knight is a Conservative member of parliament for Solihull and has been in office as the chair of the DCMS committee since January 2020.
After working in journalism for a number of years, Knight was selected to be the Conservative candidate for Solihull in 2014 and assumed office in May 2015.
After the summary that was published by Yorkshire in October, Mr Knight accused YCCC of ‘victim-blaming’ and shortly after announced that they would be a committee hearing to go through what Mr Knight believed to be Yorkshire’s mishandling of the incident.
Kamlesh Kumar Patel, Lord Patel of Bradford, is a member of the House of Lords and former social worker.
He spent three years working with Bradford Council, went on to work with drug addicts at the Bridge Project and then set up his own project working with vulnerable children. He was appointed in 2018 as the Chair of Social Work England and has previously been chair of the Mental Health Act Commission.
The 61-year-old is also the new chairman of YCCC, having been appointed shortly after Hutton’s resignation.
Immediately after his post was confirmed, Lord Patel apologised to Rafiq saying “Azeem is a whistleblower and should be praised as such, he should never have been put through this.”
As the new chairman of Yorkshire CCC, Lord Patel issued a statement saying: “We welcome the formal meeting of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee on sport governance, and I will be listening to the session with great interest to help us understand the past and address the many challenges which have come to light.”
Mark Arthur and Martyn Moxon
The former chief executive of YCCC, Mark Arthur, should have been present to give evidence at the DCMS committee hearing, however following his resignation last week, Monday’s updated list of witnesses excluded the former chief executive’s name.
Mr Moxon’s name had also been removed from the list of witnesses. Moxon, the director of cricket at Yorkshire and former English cricketer, was recently signed off from work due to a stress-related illness.
Rafiq had called on Mr Moxon to resign or be removed from his position due to the role Rafiq claims he played in Yorkshire’s racism scandal and cover-up.
According to Rafiq, Moxon had been aware of many of the incidents of racism to which the spinner refers, but, much like the rest of the club, is alleged to have done nothing to improve conditions for the 30-year-old.
Both Arthur and Moxon were asked to attend the hearing alongside Hutton, to answer questions pertaining to the investigation, but were not present.
Yorkshire’s First XI coach, Andrew Gale has been suspended from his role as the first team coach and is currently pending a disciplinary hearing.
The former first-class cricketer was suspended over a tweet sent in 2010 which is alleged to have contained an anti-semitic slur. Gale, 37, told the Jewish News he was “completely unaware” of the offensive nature of the term and is said to have deleted the tweet as soon as he was made aware of its meaning.
A message from the editor:
Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.