/Rafiq and Hutton to give evidence to MPs

Rafiq and Hutton to give evidence to MPs

Azeem Rafiq
Azeem Rafiq played for Yorkshire between 2008 and 2018 and captained the county in 2012

Ex-Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq and the county’s former chairman Roger Hutton will give evidence to a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee hearing on Tuesday.

MPs will hear from Rafiq after a report found he was a victim of “racial harassment and bullying” but the club said they would not discipline anyone.

Hutton, who said “nobody at Yorkshire was racist” after resigning as chair on 5 November, will answer questions on Yorkshire’s handling of the case.

Tom Harrison, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and its chair Barry O’Brien will also give evidence about the ECB’s role in the racism scandal, its complaints procedure and the wider implications for the game.

Former Yorkshire chief executive Mark Arthur, who resigned last week, had been expected to appear but is not listed, while director of cricket Martyn Moxon is currently signed off from work with a “stress-related illness”.

When is it happening?

The hearing will start at 09:30 GMT on Tuesday, 16 November. Rafiq will give evidence first, before Hutton at 10:15 and Harrison and O’Brien from 11:15.

It will take place at The Wilson Room, Portcullis House – an office building in Westminster.

What might happen?

People giving evidence to a committee hearing, and the MPs that appear at it, are given parliamentary privilege, so can speak without the fear of civil or criminal action.

Therefore we may find out more detail about Rafiq’s claims, including the names of the people at the centre of his complaints.

The full report has not been made public but it has been provided to the committee for the hearing.

New chair of Yorkshire Lord Patel said he “welcomes” the hearing and “will be listening with great interest to help us understand the past and address the many challenges which have come to light”.

Why is it happening?

The committee hearing was called after the government was unsatisfied with how Yorkshire handled the investigation and the delay in sharing the full report with Rafiq and the ECB.

In September 2020, following an initial interview with Wisden,external-link Rafiq, who played for Yorkshire between 2008 and 2018 having moved to England from Pakistan aged 10, told ESPN Cricinfoexternal-link “institutional racism” encountered while at the club left him close to taking his own life.

He told BBC Sport he dreaded “every second” of his career and that a team-mate used a racially offensive term linked to his Pakistani heritage.

Yorkshire launched a formal investigation into Rafiq’s allegations in September 2020 and Hutton said the club would be carrying out a “wider review” of their “policies and culture”.

In August 2021, three days after Yorkshire received the findings of the independent report carried out by law firm Squire Patton Boggs, they admitted Rafiq was “the victim of inappropriate behaviour” – something Rafiq said was downplaying racism – and offered him their “profound apologies”.

The report summary said Rafiq was the “victim of racial harassment and bullying”, with seven of the 43 allegations upheld, although the club said they could not release the full report for legal reasons. They said there had been insufficient evidence to conclude the club was institutionally racist.

Rafiq questioned what punishments had been handed out to former players and a coach who had been found guilty of using racist language. He also questioned the validity of the investigation.

A story published by ESPN said the report had concluded that a racially offensive term used towards Rafiq was regarded as “banter”.

Julian Knight MP, chair of the DCMS select committee, called it “one of the most repellent and disturbing episodes in modern cricket history”.

Knight’s comments came after Health Secretary Sajid Javid called for “heads to roll” at Yorkshire and said that if the ECB did not take action, “it’s not fit for purpose”. He further stated in a Twitter post that the term allegedly used to describe Rafiq was “not banter”.

How can I follow it?

The hearing will be available to watch liveexternal-link and the BBC Sport website and app will provide updates in a live text commentary.