Lawyer blasts delays to probe into alleged racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club

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Yorkshire County Cricket Club has been told it risks “legitimising racism” if a delayed investigation into allegations of racism made by ex-player Azeem Rafiq is not published by the start of April, Rafiq’s lawyer has claimed.

The club has responded today, saying it understands the significance of the investigation, but emphasises the importance of giving witnesses the necessary time and space to comment in detail.

In August, Rafiq, a former England under-19 captain who played for YCCC in 2008-18, spoke publicly about racism he said he suffered at the club.

The Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s Board appointed a sub-committee to carry out a review following the allegations.

Rafiq’s solicitor, Asma Iqbal of Chadwick Lawrence LLP, says this review was originally expected to finish by December and, when first delayed, shortly after Christmas.

She adds the investigation was still not ready when a separate employment tribunal launched by Rafiq against YCCC started this month.

The next hearing of the tribunal is scheduled for 16 and 17 June, but Iqbal says there is still no firm date for the completion nor publication of YCCC’s review.

She says the latest suggestion is spring, but the continued delays mean there is little faith that this will mean publication in March, April, or even May.

Iqbal added: “We want to see a thorough investigation, which is why we accepted that this inquiry would take longer than initially suggested.

“The continued delays, however, create a lack of faith in the entire process and means trust in the sport’s ability to clean up its act is being seriously undermined.

“At best, the delay is tone deaf when former players, coaches, and umpires are bravely coming forward about their dreadful experiences.

“At worst, the delay shows fear of the investigation’s possible findings and the impact they might have on the employment tribunal. Failure to act quickly and decisively only risks legitimising racism.

“I urge YCCC and its appointed panel and lawyers to complete this investigation by the start of April at the latest, giving all sides time to review the findings ahead of the employment tribunal.

“That will have been seven months, which is far more than enough time to produce a thorough and conclusive report.

“The longer this is delayed, the longer we have to wait for the reforms YCCC so badly needs if it is to become an inclusive, progressive club.”

The club spokesman responded: “Far from ‘legitimising racism’ this is an extremely important investigation, not just for Yorkshire County Cricket Club but for the game of cricket and for sport more widely.

“We have always acknowledged that this has often been a difficult process for those involved and the investigation team were clear that witnesses be given the time and space to speak about their experiences fully and that they should not feel the pressure of a constrained time limit.

“Azeem has raised an important issue to bring about meaningful change, improve diversity and stamp out racism in sport and the investigation’s recommendations will form an important part of that process.

“We believe the investigation’s findings will be delivered before the next stage of the tribunal but it would be inappropriate to try to tailor its timing to fit with tribunal proceedings.”