Azeem Rafiq and ECB to appear at new parliamentary committee hearing over racism in cricket

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Azeem Rafiq is poised to give further evidence to a parliamentary select committee later this year.

The former Yorkshire player spoke candidly about his experience of racist abuse during two stints at the county at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee hearing last November.

The PA news agency understands there is interest within the committee in hearing from Rafiq and Yorkshire chair Lord Patel again in the autumn, although neither has yet been formally requested to appear.

The committee is understood to be especially keen to hear from Rafiq about a campaign to vilify him since his first appearance, and from Lord Patel about attempts to undermine the new regime at Yorkshire.

The pair would of course be able to speak freely before the committee, with the protection of parliamentary privilege, and it is understood Rafiq would be prepared to appear before them again if asked, in the interests of full transparency.

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Ideally the DCMS committee also wants the England and Wales Cricket Board to appear at the same hearing, and would prefer this to happen once the Cricket Discipline Commission process related to Yorkshire and the allegations of racism is complete.

The ECB announced in June that Yorkshire and ‘a number of individuals’ had been charged following an investigation into Rafiq’s allegations of racism, and into how Yorkshire had handled those allegations.

Rafiq will appear as a witness at the CDC hearings which are due to take place in November or December.

The only individual who has confirmed they have been charged is former Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale, who announced on June 29 he would not engage with the process, which he described as “tainted”.

Last month Rafiq received an in-person apology from his former Yorkshire team-mate Gary Ballance for the “unacceptable” and “racist” language he had used towards him.

Rafiq’s startling claims before the committee on November 16 last year caused an “earthquake” to hit the ECB, according to its former chief executive Tom Harrison.

The sport’s governing body devised a 12-point plan designed to tackle discrimination within cricket and is obliged to provide quarterly updates on progress to the DCMS committee on that.

Separately, the outcome of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) investigation into the ECB is also due to issue its final report this autumn.

The ICEC was announced by the ECB in March last year to evaluate the state of equity in the sport.

Rafiq first spoke publicly about what he saw as institutional racism at Yorkshire in August 2020. The club commissioned a law firm, Squire Patton Boggs, to independently investigate the allegations and an independent panel to review SPB’s findings.

It was not until September last year that Yorkshire published a summary of the findings of the independent investigation, in which it accepted Rafiq had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying but upheld only seven of 43 allegations made.

The following month, the club announced no individuals would face disciplinary action arising from the investigation. The full report has never been published.

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The handling of Rafiq’s allegations by the former leadership at Yorkshire was heavily criticised last autumn, with the ECB withdrawing the right for Headingley to host lucrative England matches until governance conditions were met.

Roger Hutton resigned as chair on November 5 last year, with chief executive Mark Arthur quitting on November 11.

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