Andrew Gale’s impassioned defence shows rationality and reason has gone out the window at Yorkshire CCC - Chris Waters

WHAT a mess. What a complete and utter unconscionable mess.

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Andrew Gale breaks silence on Azeem Rafiq affair and Yorkshire CCC dismissal

It is getting on for two years now since the Yorkshire racism scandal broke and there is no end in sight to this wretched affair.

In fact it is going from bad to worse. Who knows where or how it will end.

Yorkshire's former coach Andrew Gale has told his side of the story (Picture: SWPix.com)

In my view, as I stated in these pages on Saturday, the only solution is a public inquiry. Full and absolute disclosure before a judge or retired judge, with statutory powers to compel evidence and testimony, is the only way to get justice for all.

Everything needs to be looked at – Azeem Rafiq and his evidence, the counter-claims of the accused, the activities of Yorkshire, the England and Wales Cricket Board, the DCMS, you name it; no stone or pebble should be left unturned.

If anything, events of the last 48 hours have strengthened the case.

First, Michael Vaughan stepped down from Test Match Special, his career on hold while people decide – usually on Twitter – whether he said “there’s too many of you lot, we need to do something about it” to Rafiq and a group of Asian players in 2009.

Former Yorkshire team-mates Andrew Gale and Azeem Rafiq in happier times as county champions in 2014 (Picture: SWPix.com)

Then, Andrew Gale broke his seven-month silence on his dismissal as Yorkshire first-team coach, one of 16 people who were either sacked or resigned without, as he says, any attempt to find out whether they had actually done anything wrong.

The lack of due process, indeed, has been simply staggering; if you or a family member had been treated in the same way that Yorkshire treated those staff, you’d be up in arms.

And this, in my judgement, is one of the chief problems. Leaving aside for a moment Rafiq’s claims, which are too many and complex to go into detail here, much trouble would have been avoided if Yorkshire, first, had not handled the initial investigation so badly and, second, not simply sacked all those staff without proper process, effectively claiming that they had no choice.

Indeed, of all the mistakes made during the crisis, there has surely been none greater than that callous, summary dismissal of staff, some of whom were not even at the club when Rafiq played for Yorkshire. You don’t replace one alleged immoral period, replace it with another and call it progress. It’s ridiculous.

Azeem Rafiq attended the Test match at Headingley on Saturday (Picture: PA)

Yorkshire have said that they had no choice because otherwise they could have been sued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the club could potentially have gone out of business, while the England and Wales Cricket Board also suspended it from hosting international cricket pending governance reforms, a separate area of controversy.

But what the equality watchdog actually said was that it was “likely” that an unlawful act had taken place and threatened legal action if appropriate steps were not taken.

It did not say “definitely” and, in any case, what did the EHRC know, might one enquire? Even those of us close to the story, who have lived and breathed it for months, could not have made that definitive assertion, particularly in the absence of anything like a satisfactory investigation by Yorkshire and now the ECB.

But because the issue is so toxic, especially on Twitter, it has been characterised by knee-jerk pronouncements and decisions, brand and image management (witness sponsors almost falling over themselves in a mad rush to disassociate themselves from the club last year) and an almost complete refusal to apply the usual standards of intellectual scrutiny to a very complicated story that actually goes deeper than Rafiq and the regime he deposed.

Yorkshire cricket chairman Lord Patel in the stands following day one of the third LV= Insurance Test Series Match at Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds. (Picture: PA)

Context and nuance? Forget it. Rationality and reason has gone out of the window.

In my opinion, the various institutions concerned are as bad as each other – Yorkshire, the ECB, the DCMS, and complicit in the chaos that prevails.

The DCMS hearing, palpably prejudged by Julian Knight MP, as Gale has rightly said, was so utterly devoid of any attempt to properly scrutinise the case that even a child could see through it.

No, a full-blown public inquiry, focusing on everything and everyone, Knight included, is the only way to get to the bottom of the Rafiq affair, with the man himself saying that he would prefer to have everything out in the open.

On that I agree, for this subject is too important, too significant for society and for sport in general to settle for less.