Yorkshire CCC's departing chairman Roger Hutton lifts lid on club's bitter internal war over racism report

The outgoing chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club Roger Hutton has lifted the lid on the bitter boardroom battle over the club’s racism scandal - and called for chief executive Mark Arthur and director of cricket Martyn Moxon to quit.

Roger Hutton has resigned as Yorkshire chairman.

After resigning on Friday morning as Yorkshire chairman, Mr Hutton - who is joint managing partner at law firm Clarion - told The Yorkshire Post he felt he had wrongly been made the “scapegoat” for the scandal surrounding the racial harassment and bullying of former player Azeem Rafiq and the club’s decision not to take any further action over the matter.

He said there has been an ongoing split between non-executive directors such as himself and executive members like Mr Arthur and Mr Moxon - leading to the club’s inertia on making public statements about the growing scandal, which has seen sponsors desert the club and the ECB suspend Yorkshire’s ability to host international matches.

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Two other non-executive directors, Hanif Malik OBE and Stephen Willis, also quit the board today with a third - Neil Hartley - due to leave “in the near future”. Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford has been appointed as the new chairman.Mr Hutton, who became chairman in April 2020 said that after Azeem Rafiq went public with his allegations in August 2020, he pushed for an investigation to take place.

He said the process “had been too slow” but said problems truly began when the board received the findings in August this year. While the report is yet to be published, a summary released by Yorkshire in September said seven of 43 allegations made by Mr Rafiq about his treatment had been upheld.

Mr Hutton said while he and other non-executives had wanted the club to “accept the findings, acknowledge there had been racism within the club, show contrition and move forward” others inside the club seemed “keen to deny the allegations, to avoid apologising and not to move forward, but rather to actually consider the perceived failings in Azeem Rafiq’s character as some form of mitigation or defence to the actions that had been taken”.

He said: “I felt this approach was completely wrong. I’ve never met Azeem Rafiq, I don’t know much about his personality. But whatever that personality is, that doesn’t mean you should be the subject of bullying, it doesn’t mean you should be subject to racist behaviour.

“I was anxious at all times to try and do the right thing - that has always been complicated.”

There had been growing rumours this week that Mr Hutton would be forced to resign over the debacle but he insisted his resignation two hours before an emergency board meeting yesterday was not a case of jumping before he was pushed.

He admitted he had “made mistakes” but defended his overall approach to the issue.

“I was a non-executive chairman. I haven’t got powers, I’m voluntary, I’m not paid and I’m very much part time.

“It is the executive and senior management ultimately that need to make the changes and deliver the strategy going forward. Sadly that hasn’t happened. Clearly I and the non-executives have failed to persuade them of that.

“That must mean to some extent, I’ve got things wrong.”

But he added that it was unfair for the blame for the situation to be placed solely on his shoulders.

“I’m the chairman and I’ve resigned today but the reality is to one extent or another I’ve been made the scapegoat for a situation that is not of my making. I wasn’t here when Azeem Rafiq suffered the conduct he suffered. I wasn’t the person who didn’t investigate - actually I’ve been the person who has asked the questions and caused there to be an investigation.”

He said that in his view both Mr Arthur and Mr Moxon should leave the club.

“I think they should resign,” he said.

It is understood neither man intends to resign.

Mr Moxon said last night in a statement to the Press Association: “There’s a new chair in place, it’s entirely in his hands what happens now.”

Mr Hutton defended the decision for Yorkshire not to order any disciplinary action over Mr Rafiq’s treatment, despite current player Gary Ballance admitting this week he had used “a racial slur”.

“The findings in the report are against both current employees and people who are no longer employed. If there are findings against people who are no longer employed, clearly the club can’t take disciplinary action.

“Both the findings from the investigation team and the panel and then an independent law firm instructed by the club all reached the same conclusion, that as a matter of law they did not warrant any discplinary action.”

While the report ordered by Yorkshire found Mr Rafiq had been the victim of racial bullying and harassment, it did not make a determination on his central allegation that the club was institutionally racist.

While more information has come to light since the report, Mr Hutton would not be drawn on whether the club was institutionally racist - as had been alleged by Azeem Rafiq.

“I can only give you this answer - the club instructed a panel to answer that very question and its conclusion was there was insufficient evidence to conclude that.

“What I can say is I experienced a culture that refused to accept change or challenge.”

When challenged that more information has subsequently emerged since the report was finalised, Mr Hutton said: “I haven’t seen that evidence.”

Yorkshire CCC failed to respond to repeated requests for comment. The Yorkshire Post approached Mr Moxon and Mr Arthur for comment. At the time of going to press, they had not responded.

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Read more of the exclusive interview with Roger Hutton in this weekend's Yorkshire Post.

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