Azeem Rafiq: Yorkshire's new chair Lord Patel says ex-player should be praised as 'whistleblower'

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Azeem Rafiq was a Yorkshire player between 2008 and 2018, and captained the club during a Twenty20 match.

Lord Patel, the new chair of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club, believes Azeem Rafiq deserves to be "praised for his bravery" and that he "should never" have been subjected to the Yorkshire County Cricket Club's racism scandal.

Lord Patel stated that Yorkshire had settled the employment tribunal with Rafiq.

Rafiq, a former player, was the victim of racism and bullying at Yorkshire. However, the club denied that it would discipline anyone.

Patel stated that Azeem was a whistleblower who should be praised.

"He shouldn't have been put through such.

"We are sorry for the pain you and your family have endured and the way we handled it.

"I am grateful to Azeem, for his courage in speaking out. I want to be clear: racism and discrimination of any kind are not banter.

The scandal that engulfed cricket in the last week has seen senior figures at Yorkshire resign and the club be banned from hosting international matches. Sponsors have also ended their contracts.

Yorkshire published its summary of Rafiq's allegations in September 2013, a year after Rafiq made them public. It then stated that no one would be disciplined.

However, the investigation was criticised for allegedly finding a racist term regarding Rafiq’s Pakistani heritage was used frequently towards him at the club. It concluded that it was friendly and good-natured banter.

Patel, a former member of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), was appointed Friday following the resignation by Roger Hutton. He claimed that the investigation was flawed and promised "seismic changes" at the club.

Patel said that he had spoken with Rafiq in detail and asked him to participate in the club's future decisions.

"It makes it seem like the process wasn’t as well finished as it should have been."

Patel stated that he took immediate action to address the scandal during a press conference after his appointment. These are:

Rafiq has settled the employment tribunal, but it does not contain a non-disclosure arrangement (NDA), which the club had previously requested.

Establishing an independent hotline to help victims of discrimination come forward.

Review of the processes and procedures relating to diversity and inclusion in Yorkshire.

Rafiq's full report on Rafiq’s allegations should be shared with all parties that have a "legal right", including Rafiq’s lawyers and the ECB.

Patel was speaking at Yorkshire’s Headingley home. He is the chair of the ECB’s South Asian advisory group.

Rafiq thanked Patel in a statement for ending the legal proceedings.

Rafiq filed a separate claim against Yorkshire last month, apart from the Yorkshire report. He "claimed direct discrimination, harassment, and victimisation on the basis of race as well as victimisation, and detriment as the result of trying to address racism in the club".

He said, "It shouldn't have taken the rest the club a whole year to realize that I wouldn't be silenced by an NDA."

"I spoke up because I wanted to bring about change at the club. Because the club refused acknowledge the problem and created change, I filed a legal action.

"For the first-time in my life, I hope this happens - but I will continue to campaign and watch to make sure it happens."

Patel also condemned the death threats received by Yorkshire staff and talked about Yorkshire as his "home".

He stated that he was unable to fully read the Rafiq Report.

"Clearly, there is a problem. Patel stated that he was appointed to investigate whether the club is racist institutionally and what steps can be taken to address it.

"Part of my job will be to review and clarify the errors made in Azeem Rafiq’s complaints handling, both in terms investigation and actions taken following it. We can also learn from this.

"I am determined that this club will be the beating heart of English Cricket again.

"After 158 Years, we are ready for change, to accept the past, and to be a club that people can trust to do right.

Rafiq report timeline

2 September 2020: After an interview with Wisden, ESPN Cricinfo published an article with Rafiq. In it, he claimed that he was close to suicide because of "institutional racism" at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

3 September 2020: Yorkshire claims it has opened a formal investigation into Rafiq's claims. Chairman Roger Hutton also stated that the club would be conducting a "wider evaluation" of its "policies, and culture."

5 September 2020: Yorkshire requests an independent law firm for an investigation into racism allegations made against Rafiq's club.

13 November 2020: Rafiq stated that he hopes to effect "meaningful changes" after he made his first statement in response to the inquiry.

15 December 2020: Rafiq files an action against Yorkshire alleging direct discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the basis of race.

2 February 2021: Yorkshire threatens to ban anyone who makes threats against Rafiq, his family or legal team. ESPN Cricinfo has shown the messages that were sent to Rafiq by the club.

17 June 2021: Rafiq and Yorkshire fail to reach an agreement in a case before the employment tribunal. His racism accusations remain under investigation.

16 August 2021: Yorkshire receives findings from an independent investigation into racism allegations. Two days later, England and Wales Cricket Board asks for a copy.

19 August 2021: Yorkshire has yet to release the results of the investigation and offers Rafiq "profound apologies"

Rafiq accuses Yorkshire, calling him "inappropriate behavior" and downplaying racism.

8 September 2021: Yorkshire MPs ask for the publication of the findings "immediately".

Yorkshire releases the findings from the report on 10 September 2021. It states that Rafiq was the victim of racial harassment, bullying, and seven of the 43 allegations were supported by an independent panel.

Hutton stated that the report did not contain sufficient evidence to conclude Yorkshire County Cricket Club was institutionally racist.

Yorkshire published a summary of the panel report and its recommendations. However, the full report was not available for legal reasons.

8 October 2021: Yorkshire misses the deadline to submit the complete report to Rafiq, his legal team. BBC Sport has learned that an employment judge ordered Yorkshire to release the entire report by Friday 8 October.

13 October 2021: Rafiq receives a heavily edited version. The ECB states that it is still awaiting its full report.

28 October 2021 Yorkshire: Yorkshire claims that it conducted its own internal investigation following the findings of the report. It concluded that there was no misconduct or action by its employees, players, or executives that would warrant disciplinary action.

2 November 2021: Hutton is summoned by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee to appear before them to answer questions regarding Yorkshire's handling a Rafiq-related report.

After a leaked report containing details about the investigation into Rafiq's treatment, MP Knight, the chair of the DCMS select Committee, has called on the board at Yorkshire County Cricket Club for its resignation.

ESPN published a story saying that the report concluded that Rafiq had been referred to as "banter" when he used racially offensive terms towards him.

Knight's comments come after Javid, the health secretary, calls for "heads-to-roll" at Yorkshire. He said that if the ECB didn't take action "it isn’t fit for purpose." In a tweet, Knight stated that Rafiq's term was "not banter".

The ECB announced that it would conduct a full investigation into the matter.

3 November 2021: Rafiq, together with other senior Yorkshire officials, is due to testify at the DCMS hearing on 16 November.

Many sponsors, including the primary sponsor Emerald Publishing, have ended their partnership with Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Gary Ballance, the current Yorkshire batter, releases a long statement in which he regrets using a racial slur to refer to Rafiq, his former team-mate.

4 November 2021: Yorkshire is banned from hosting international matches by the ECB board.

Nike, the kit supplier, has ended a four year deal. This was announced in March 2021.

Michael Vaughan, former captain of England, claims he was included in the report, but "totally rejects any allegation about racism".

5 November 2021: Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton quits following the club's response. He also apologises to Rafiq "unreservedly". A further two board members resigned, and another will be leaving in the near future. Lord Kamlesh Patel, Bradford, is named director and chair.

Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, a former Yorkshire player, claims he was made racist comments by Vaughan towards a group Asian players.

8 November 2021: Lord Patel apologizes to Rafiq for his incontinence since his appointment and states that the club has resolved the employment tribunal with the former player.