Yorkshire CCC racism crisis: Club settles last of the outstanding claims from sacked staff

Yorkshire have settled the last of the outstanding claims from staff sacked due to the racism crisis.

The club has agreed an out-of-court settlement with Wayne Morton, the former England physiotherapist, who was seeking upwards of £500,000 damages on behalf of himself and seven subcontractors.

Morton, the former Yorkshire head of sports science and medicine, sued for breach of contract after his Pavilion Physiotherapy Clinic was part of the brutal Lord Kamlesh Patel purge in December 2021.

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Patel, the ex-Yorkshire chairman, ripped up the club’s deal with Pavilion after Morton and five of his subcontracted staff signed a private and confidential letter that was a cry for help to the previous regime over its handling of the game’s worst crisis.

In happier times: Wayne Morton pictured at Yorkshire CCC's end-of-season gala dinner after they won the Championship in 2014. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.comIn happier times: Wayne Morton pictured at Yorkshire CCC's end-of-season gala dinner after they won the Championship in 2014. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
In happier times: Wayne Morton pictured at Yorkshire CCC's end-of-season gala dinner after they won the Championship in 2014. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

The letter, sent in October 2021, made an urgent appeal for clarity on the club’s position and for a united response to allegations made by Azeem Rafiq, the former Yorkshire player.

The letter stated that the initial apology made by Roger Hutton, the former chair, who did not join Yorkshire until 18 months after Rafiq was released, and an acceptance that the player was “a victim”, was “not the correct approach” and “misrepresented entirely what kind of individual he was whilst at the club”.

Signed by 14 people in total, including ex-head coach Andrew Gale, the letter went on to condemn Rafiq’s “one-man mission to bring down the club and, with it, people of genuine integrity”, citing criticism of former director of cricket Martyn Moxon and chief executive Mark Arthur as “grossly unfair”.

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The subcontracted staff who signed the letter - subsequently leaked to the Daily Telegraph - were Kunwar Bansil, the lead physiotherapist; Peter Miller, the second team physiotherapist; Chris Liversidge, the academy physiotherapist; Dr Nigel Mayers, the club medical officer, and Dr Mark Nesti, the club sports psychologist. Dr Chris Garnett and Phil Lee were the other subcontracted staff who were part of Morton’s claim.

Now Yorkshire have finally drawn a line in the sand on this legal episode, which has been settled for an undisclosed amount without, it is thought, a non-disclosure agreement.

It is believed that legal fees and severance payments resulting from the crisis are now some £3m, plunging the club further into a financial mess which Colin Graves, the returning chairman, is working hard to address.

Graves, who was Yorkshire chair during Rafiq’s first spell at the club before joining the England and Wales Cricket Board as chair in 2015, has acted with trademark decisiveness by settling Morton’s case just days into his latest tenure.

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Graves is now thought to be in the throes of conducting a root-and-branch review of every aspect of the club, including the cricket department.

Yorkshire are expected to make a statement concerning their settlement with Morton after a board meeting on February 26.

As well as drawing a line under the case from Yorkshire’s perspective, the settlement ends a harrowing period for Morton and the staff, whose lives have been turned upside down.

Morton, 62, also had to contend with allegations by Yorkshire as part of his case that he had “a sexual relationship with a senior employee at the club which was at odds with his professional position as an independent key medical supplier to the club”, and that he “engaged in unprotected sexual activity and intercourse with a prostitute”.

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Both of those allegations - completely refuted by Morton - highlighted the extent to which Yorkshire stooped in their efforts to get rid of him, and were among five of eight thrown out by Yorkshire themselves at a pre-trial hearing only last month.

The High Court case, which was slated to be heard from March 8, also accused Morton of covering up an incident of indecent exposure by Rafiq himself, a charge he also denied.

Case documents referenced two allegations of indecent exposure by Rafiq - at the Yorkshire team hotel in Northampton in 2012, and at the Champions League tournament in South Africa later that year.

A spokesperson for Rafiq has dismissed both allegations as part of “a twisted campaign of lies” designed to discredit him.

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Prior to settling with Morton, Yorkshire admitted that the Patel-led sackings - including that of the double former County Championship-winning captain Gale - were “procedurally unfair”. Patel stepped down in March last year.

Meanwhile, Graves is preparing to be grilled by MPs at the latest Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) select committee hearing in London on Tuesday.

His appearance has drawn advance negative comment from three MPs expected to hear evidence - chair Dame Caroline Dinenage, Clive Efford and Alex Sobel.

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