Yorkshire ‘risk legitimising racism’ amid delayed investigation into Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of race discrimination, according to former spinner’s lawyer… with judge set to decided which claims can be pursued ahead of June hearing
- Azeem Rafiq’s lawyer called for the inquiry to be published by the start of April
- Rafiq initially went public last August, accusing Yorkshire of institutional racism
- A judge will decide which claims can be pursued as part of a hearing in June
Yorkshire have been warned they ‘risk legitimising racism’ if the delayed investigation into Azeem Rafiq’s accusations is not completed before the start of the 2021 season.
Rafiq’s lawyer appealed on Thursday for the independent inquiry to be published by the start of April.
In a separate issue, a judge for the employment tribunal will decide which parts of Rafiq’s claims against the club can be pursued ahead of a hearing scheduled for June 16 and 17.
Yorkshire have been warned they ‘risk legitimising racism’ if the investigation into Azeem Rafiq’s accusations continues to be delayed
‘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,’ said Asma Iqbal, of Leeds-based Chadwick Lawrence LLP.
‘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 (Yorkshire) 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 (Yorkshire) so badly needs if it is to become an inclusive, progressive club.’
A judge will decide which parts of Rafiq’s claims against the club can be pursued
In response, Yorkshire said in a statement to Sportsmail: ‘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 that 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.’
Rafiq initially went public last August, accusing Yorkshire of institutional racism, but the probe was delayed when his legal team objected to the ‘independence’ of certain panel members.
Yorkshire denied the claims that they risked legitimising racism, stating Rafiq had raised an important issue to bring about meaningful change
The original intention had been for investigations to be concluded by the end of 2020 but statements were still being taken from witnesses on the eve of Rafiq’s preliminary tribunal hearing earlier this month.
Former England Under-19 captain Rafiq is taking legal action against Yorkshire for discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race.
Rafiq, 30 on Saturday, is also claiming victimisation and detriment as a result of his efforts to address racism at Headingley.
Rafiq (right) initially went public last August, accusing Yorkshire of institutional racism
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