Yorkshire CCC press conference: Lord Patel says club has settled employment tribunal with Azeem Rafiq

The new chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club has said the club has settled its long-running employment tribunal with former player Azeem Rafiq.

Lord Kamlesh Patel is the new chairman of Yorkshire CCC.

Lord Kamlesh Patel gave a press conference at Headingley Stadium this afternoon following his appointment as the club's new chairman on Friday.

His appointment followed the resignation of Roger Hutton as chairman in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal, which has seen sponsors desert the club and the ECB threaten to take away the club's ability to host international matches.

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It follows an independent report investigating allegations by Mr Rafiq finding he had been a victim of racial harassment and bullying while playing for Yorkshire - but did not make a determination on whether the club was institutionally racist. The report is yet to be made public but a summary released by Yorkshire CCC in September said it had upheld seven of Mr Rafiq's 43 allegations.

Azeem Rafiq playing for Yorkshire in 2017.

The investigation was running in parallel to an employment tribunal between Mr Rafiq and the club - which was cited as one of the reasons why the report could not be published.

Lord Patel said today: "We have settled the employment tribunal case with Azeem Rafiq. Absolutely no restrictions have been placed on Azeem on what he can and can't say about his experiences.

"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."

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.”

Lord Patel said he had not been fully able to digest Yorkshire’s report into Rafiq’s allegations, but added: “What I’ve seen so far does feel uncomfortable. It makes me feel the process wasn’t as well completed as it should have been.”

Patel said he would release the report to those who had a “legal interest” rather than simply publish it.

This would include, he said, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee Julian Knight.

He said he had spent six-and-a-half hours speaking to Mr Rafiq after becoming chairman.

"It was incredibly tough. You did feel - why would we do this to any human being?"

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