In September 2020, The Yorkshire County Cricket Club launched a full investigation into allegations of racism made by former player Azeem Rafiq spanning back to 2008.
The investigation was conducted by international law firm Squire Patton Boggs and was extensive. They interviewed many witnesses, including Azeem, current and former players, coaching staff and management, who willingly came forward. They also considered significant amounts of material and evidence submitted by a broad range of contributors. We are grateful to everyone who contributed to this important process.
In addition to investigating Azeem’s specific allegations, the scope of the investigation also considered whether Yorkshire County Cricket Club was institutionally racist.
An independent panel of experts was appointed, with relevant experience within the fields of HR, sport, governance and employment law. The Panel was chaired by Dr Samir Pathak, a consultant pancreatic surgeon at St. James’s University Hospital in Leeds, a trustee of the MCC Foundation and member of the MCC Cricket Committee. The Panel all undertook the role outside of their day jobs and on a voluntary basis. The Panel’s role was to oversee the integrity of the investigation, make their own findings and propose recommendations to the Club as to future actions it should take.
It is important to note that this is not a judicial process and everyone who participated did so voluntarily.
The investigation has been in depth and far from easy. It commenced in November once it had received Azeem’s statement, three months after the allegations were made. Further witnesses came forward in April 2021. We acknowledge that it has been a distressing and difficult period for those involved. We are sorry that the process took longer than we had hoped, but it has always been our position that the investigation should be thorough, and so far as possible, not compromised by external factors.
We have now received the final report together with a set of recommendations. The Board was made aware of these last weekend and is in the process of reviewing the findings.
It is inevitable that there is much to digest and we shall have to take advice on the contents of the report. We are mindful that in a process of this nature we have a duty of care to all who participated, and we must not breach that duty. We aim to publish as much of the report and recommendations as we are able, subject to any legal restraints on doing so, in the coming weeks.
There were many allegations made against the Club most of which relate to a period more than ten years ago. Many of the allegations were not upheld and for others there was insufficient evidence for the Panel to make a determination. It is right, however, to acknowledge from the outset that several of the allegations made by Azeem were upheld and that sadly, historically, Azeem was the victim of inappropriate behaviour. This is clearly unacceptable. We would like to express our profound apologies for this.
The Panel also found that the Club failed to implement its policies and procedures in relation to these serious issues. The Club understands the importance of the Panel’s findings.
The Yorkshire County Cricket Club Chair, Roger Hutton, said : “I would like to acknowledge Azeem’s courage in raising these issues, and his participation in the investigation, which I understand must have been very difficult. I would also like to express my sincere apology to him for certain failings by the Club, which have been highlighted by the Panel.
“He has very obviously experienced some difficult and distressing times during the time since 2008 and the Club could, and should, have supported him better.
“Since I joined the board in 2020, it has become obvious to me that both prior to and since, it has continually tried to improve its relationship with diverse communities. It has however not progressed far enough, particularly as we learn to see the world from fresh eyes, and I consider that this report will be a platform for further important changes at YCCC.”