Yorkshire CCC crisis: Lord Patel to launch new review into whether club is institutionally racist

New Yorkshire CCC chairman Lord Kamlesh Patel has said the club requires “seismic change” as he pledged to launch a fresh investigation into whether the organisation is institutionally racist.

Lord Patel of Bradford told a press conference at Headingley Stadium on Monday: “Clearly there is a problem, and I have been appointed to see if this club is institutionally racist and how we can address that.

“There is a clear and urgent need for seismic change, starting from within.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

An independent report which found former player Azeem Rafiq had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying during his time at the club is yet to be made public but a summary of its findings published by Yorkshire in September said the panel involved had been unable to reach a definitive conclusion on his central allegation that the club was institutionally racist.

Lord Kamlesh Patel gives his first press conference as Yorkshire CCC chairman at Headingley Stadium. Picture: Simon Hulme

Lord Patel said the investigation had been “flawed” and said he intended to examine what errors had been made in the handling of Mr Rafiq’s complaints, both during the investigation and afterwards.

He added: “The report looks at several specific instances of alleged racism, but not the totality of the issue, and I am determined to look at any pattern of behaviours which could suggest institutional racism within the club, how this manifests itself, and what we can do about it.”

Lord Patel did not put a timeline on the new investigation but said he wanted to speak to all the club’s current players as part of the process.

“I want to do this as diligently as possible. I don’t want to rush it but I’m very conscious that the longer this goes on, the more damage it causes for all of us.”

Azeem Rafiq playing for Yorkshire in 2017

Lord Patel said the full unredacted report will now be shared with parties with a legal interest in the matter - including Mr Rafiq’s lawyers, the England and Wales Cricket Board, the select committee of MPs due to hold an evidence hearing on the matter next week and the Equality and Human Rights Commission which is considering taking action against the club.

But he did not commit to publishing the report more widely. “I think it will be important for those with a legal interest to read it and reflect on it before I just publish it.”

The EHRC, which said on Friday it was "deeply concerned about the incidents of racism", confirmed last night it had now received a full copy of the report and would now assess it and consider what next steps to take.

Lors Patel also confirmed that the heavily-criticised chief executive Mark Arthur and director of cricket Martyn Moxon currently remain in their posts. His predecessor Roger Hutton called last week for both Mr Moxon and Mr Arthur to resign over their handling of the matter.

When asked about their positions, Lord Patel said: “I said I would listen and that means listening to everybody. I will look at what’s gone on, I will seek independent help and I will make the right decisions once I have assessed the evidence.

"My whole life has been about looking at the evidence, listening to people and then making the right decision.”

Lord Patel revealed that a parallel employment tribunal between Mr Rafiq and the club - cited as one of the reasons why the report is yet to be published - has now been settled.

“The settlement does not include a non-disclosure agreement. The club was wrong to have asked Azeem to agree a non-disclosure agreement and he rightly refused. He will be free to speak about his experiences.”

He said he would not go into the financial details of the settlement with Mr Rafiq.

It was reported last week that the internal inquiry dismissed the regular use of a racial slur towards Mr Rafiq as “banter”.

In a statement at the start of his press conference, Lord Patel said: Racism or any form of discrimination is not banter - it is simply not acceptable. My heart goes out to anyone who has experienced racism, discrimination of any kind.”

He went on to say Mr Rafiq should have been treated as a whistleblower and apologised for his experiences.

“Azeem is a whistleblower and should be praised as such, he should never have been put through this,” Patel said.

“We’re sorry for what you and your family have experienced and the way in which we’ve handled this.

“I thank Azeem for his bravery in speaking out. Let me be clear from the outset, racism or discrimination in any form is not banter.”

He revealed he has had a six-and-half hour conversation with Mr Rafiq about his experiences.

“It was tough for me, it was incredibly tough for him. You did feel - ‘why would we do this to any human being?’”

Rafiq calls for chief executive and director of cricket to go

Azeem Rafiq said Lord Patel had made “a good start” as chairman but reiterated his call for Mr Arthur and Mr Moxon to leave the club.

“They have consistently failed to take responsibility for what happened on their watch and must go,” Rafiq said.

“I urge them to do the right thing and resign to make way for those who will do what is needed for the club’s future.”

He also thanked Lord Patel for concluding the employment tribunal issue. “It should not have taken the rest of the club a year to realise I would not be silenced through an NDA. I spoke out because I wanted to create change at the club.”

Read more:

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you'll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click here to subscribe.