Yorkshire CCC is institutionally racist, former chairman Roger Hutton agrees
One of the central allegations made by Azeem Rafiq was that the club was institutionally racist but an investigation ordered by the club subsequently made no determination whether or not this was the case.
The investigation was carried out by law firm Squire Patton Boggs, with an independent panel selected to “oversee the integrity of the investigation” and make their own findings.
The definition of institutional racism used in the investigation was contained in the Stephen Lawrence inquiry report, namely “the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping, which disadvantage minority ethnic people.”
When asked for his personal opinion by select committee member Kevin Brennan MP on whether the club was institutionally racist, Mr Hutton initially said: “The report concluded there was insufficient evidence, the panel concluded there was insufficient evidence.
“I have to observe that in the last few months there has been a substantial amount of thoughtlessness and ignorance, a reluctance to apologise, a reluctance to see Azeem as the victim and a reluctance to put into place the recommendations which I think are really important in this process.”
Mr Brennan said: “That sounds to me like you are edging towards the word, ‘yes’.”
Mr Hutton replied: “I think the question remains unanswered.”
Mr Brennan then said: “My question is to you rather than what happened in the report. You were chair for 18 months and you’ve resigned.”
Mr Hutton replied: “Yes, I fear it falls within that definition.”
Earlier in the hearing, Mr Brennan asked why the terms of reference for the investigation were changed partway through - with investigators no longer asked to report to an independent panel their views on whether the club was institutionally racist but instead to concentrate only on the specific allegations involving Mr Rafiq.
Mr Hutton said: “The questions posed never changed. Unbeknown to me, the panel asked the investigation not to make findings on the second question.
“They didn’t do that with my knowledge and the panel I can only assume, because I had no input into the process at all, must have concluded it wanted to make the finding rather than the investigation team.”
He said he “had no answer” why the panel had changed the scope of the investigation.
During his testimony, Mr Rafiq said he believed the investigation into his allegations had been “far from independent”.
He said that while the investigation was live, members of the panel were entertained by the county at a Headingley Test match.
“It just shows the arrogance of these people,” he said.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison was subsequently asked the same question as Mr Hutton about whether the club was institutionally racist but did not go as far.
However, he said: “I think the handling of the report indicates issues around institutional racism.”
Lord Patel makes surprise appearance to give evidence
No current Yorkshire CCC employee who worked at the club during the time Azeem Rafiq was a player or during the subsequent investigation into his allegations turned up for the hearing.
Chief executive Mark Arthur had been listed as a witness for the hearing last week but resigned from his post with immediate effect on the same day, while director of medical services Wayne Morton who was also originally scheduled to attend did not turn up.
When the hearing was initially announced it had been anticipated that director of cricket Martyn Moxon would be called as a witness but he is currently on a period of stress-related sick leave.
While not listed as a witness prior to the hearing, new chairman Lord Kamlesh Patel did end up giving evidence alongside his predecessor Roger Hutton after being called forward from the public gallery.
Lord Patel said: “I’m days into my tenure but in terms of feeling and talking to people, you see denial. You see phenomenally hard working people who have given their lives to the club. You see people who are terrified, scared, they are in the headlights, mentally completely stressed, you see a lot of sadness.
“We are all going to have to go on a journey.
“I’m going to hve to be a very active chairman, I’m going to have play a leadership role.
“This is an organisation that has been hammered left, right and centre maybe for the right reasons but there are individuals at the heart of it.
“Just like Azeem and the hurt he has gone through, there’s some people going through hurt as well.
“Change has got to be made. It is not going to be overnight but by God have we got to move on it really quickly and hard.
"I’m prepared to take whatever decisions I need to take. There are too many people suffering at the moment.”
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.