Azeem Rafiq discrimination case against Yorkshire CCC starts behind closed doors

The first morning of Azeem Rafiq’s legal case against Yorkshire will be heard in private, a spokesperson for the former player has said.

Azeem Rafiq: Case against Yorkshire CCC is on Wednesday and Thursday.
Azeem Rafiq: Case against Yorkshire CCC is on Wednesday and Thursday.

Rafiq filed a claim against the county under the Equality Act in December, alleging direct discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race, and a hearing is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday this week.

It has been announced that the hearing will now begin in private.

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“The tribunal hearing which is listed for June 16 and 17 has been converted to a private hearing to deal with some case management issues on the first morning,” said a spokesperson for Rafiq.

The 30-year-old, who played professionally for Yorkshire in two spells between 2008 and 2018, is also claiming victimisation and detriment as a result of his efforts to address racism at the club.

Rafiq initially spoke out last August, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and Yorkshire commissioned a separate investigation into his allegations which is ongoing.

Chadwick Lawrence, the law firm representing Rafiq in his claim, published details last December of what Rafiq alleges was “expressly racist dressing room banter” aimed at non-white players.

This included the use of terms such as “P**i”, “elephant washer”, and telling such players to “go back where you came from”, the firm said.

It is also claimed that Yorkshire failed to respect the beliefs of Pakistani players or players of Pakistani ethnicity, including failing to provide Halal food facilities.

The claim also stated there were attempts to enforce a drinking culture on those players, and referenced an occasion where players and officials laughed at alcohol being thrown over a Muslim child and on-field racist abuse directed towards a black South African player.

Rafiq was also referred to as ‘Raffa the Kaffir’, it is claimed.

It is also claimed he was denied opportunities afforded to white players, including the chance to play Twenty20 cricket in the winter, there was a lack of pastoral care offered by the club after his son was stillborn and that the county ignored his complaints of racism and victimisation throughout 2018 and the severe mental health issues he suffered as a result of his treatment by the club, including depression and contemplating suicide.

Parts of Rafiq’s claim are outside of the primary time limit, his lawyers said, but they will argue that it is just and equitable for the time to be extended given the public interest in his claims and that the tribunal should hear about his allegations in full before making a decision on the issue.

The claim stated Rafiq had been unable to submit it any earlier due to severe mental health issues he suffered as a result of the discrimination he alleges, the financial difficulties he suffered after being released by the club and concerns over retaliation.

Yorkshire commissioned an independent law firm, Squire Patton Boggs, to investigate Rafiq’s allegations of institutional racism last year but Rafiq and his legal team have criticised the delays and questioned the inquiry’s impartiality.

At the time Rafiq filed his claim, the county said in a statement: “Racism has no place in our society or in our sport.

“We have taken the allegations made extremely seriously, launching a thorough, independent investigation and now await the results and recommendations from this early next year.

“This is an important investigation for the club and a distressing time for all involved but with this process under way and the investigation team currently conducting interviews, it would be inappropriate for us to go into further detail on any ongoing legal matters at this stage.”