Colin Graves’ return sees Yorkshire end toxic £500,000 battle with ‘sacked’ medical chief

Colin Graves - Colin Graves' return sees Yorkshire end toxic £500,000 battle with ‘sacked' medical chief’
Colin Graves is back on the Yorkshire board - Allan McKenzie/PA

The return of Colin Graves to Yorkshire has seen them finally end a toxic £500,000 legal battle with their ‘sacked’ medical chief that saw lurid accusations made over the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal.

It can be revealed the club have agreed an out-of-court settlement with Wayne Morton, the former England physiotherapist, whose claim for breach of contract was the last outstanding case to be brought over the county’s worst-ever crisis.

Telegraph Sport disclosed in November the parties had struck a deal due to be announced in a statement likely to include an apology from Yorkshire, who had torn up their contract with Morton’s Pavilion Physiotherapy Clinic during then-chairman Lord Patel’s purge of staff to have raised concerns about the club’s handling of Rafiq’s complaints of racism.

But the county threatened to renege on that agreement and it is only since the return to the board of proposed new chairman Graves last week that a “consent order” has been issued by the High Court, heralding the end of Yorkshire’s legal battle with Morton.

That battle, first revealed by Telegraph Sport almost a year-and-a-half ago, saw the county make a series of explosive accusations against him, laying bare the extraordinary lengths to which the Patel-led county were apparently prepared to go to see through a mass cull that could end up costing them £3.5 million in legal fees and severance payments.

Patel resigned almost a year ago, paving the way for Yorkshire chief executive Stephen Vaughan to launch peace talks with Morton, who has been fighting to clear his name since his removal more than two years ago.

Wayne Morton - Colin Graves' return sees Yorkshire end toxic £500,000 battle with ‘sacked' medical chief’
Wayne Morton (right), treating Alec Stewart, spent time as England's physiotherapist in the 1990s - Patrick Eagar/Getty Images

Among the allegations made against him, which were branded “false”, “untrue”, “baseless” and “wrong” in his lawsuit and “scurrilous” in public comments from the man himself, were that he: “engaged in unprotected sexual activity and intercourse with a prostitute who then also engaged in sexual activity with at least one other senior member of staff at the club”; “braggartly boasted about their misbehaviours to members of the club’s staff”, despite their conduct being “illegal”; and 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”.

Later court submissions also saw Rafiq himself accused of twice exposing his private parts to women while playing for Yorkshire more than a decade ago, prompting his spokesman to condemn what he branded “a twisted campaign of lies” that had forced the former spinner to flee the country.

The documents were filed in response to Yorkshire’s defence to Morton’s claim in which they accused him of admitting to covering up a complaint an unnamed former player had exposed himself to a female masseuse.

The papers lodged on behalf of Morton identified Rafiq as the alleged culprit during what was the club’s Twenty20 Champions League campaign in South Africa in October 2012.

The submission went on to detail a similar allegation involving a hotel cleaner in Northampton that August.

Morton dismayed by the club’s response

Denying accusations he had engaged in any cover-up, the documents stated Morton reported the second incident at the time and raised the matter again last year the day before Rafiq’s tearful testimony to a parliamentary select committee that rocked cricket to its core.

Yorkshire’s defence to Morton’s claim for damages totalling £559,776.66 plus interest also doubled down on accusations that Morton “personally orchestrated” the now-infamous letter sent to their board complaining of Rafiq’s “one-man mission to bring down the club”, the contents of which were later leaked to Telegraph Sport.

Morton, whose links with Yorkshire can be traced all the way back to the 1980s, denied leaking the letter about Rafiq or that its contents gave any grounds to terminate his contract.

But the club’s defence said it should have been “obvious” the letter would “damage” their commercial relationships and reputation and undermine attempts to show they were “committed to tackling racism and racial harassment”.

Yorkshire denied Morton’s account of allegations he “promoted” Richard Pyrah and others when he had no authority to do so, specifically his claim his assistance had been sought in appointing the club’s bowling coach as interim head coach following Andrew Gale’s suspension over a historic Twitter post.

The county also introduced a new accusation that, irrespective of the other allegations against him, his Pavilion Physiotherapy Clinic had breached its contract with them by subcontracting out services to others.

Morton’s claim included a copy of a four-year contract he signed with Yorkshire covering the period January 2020-December 2023, in which Pavilion would be paid £300,000 in the first year, rising to £323,000 in the final year.

As well as remunerating Morton, that was to pay for the services of sub-contractors Kunwar Bansil, Peter Miller, Chris Liversidge, Dr Nigel Mayers, Dr Chris Garnett, Dr Mark Nesti and Phil Lee, almost all of whom also signed the letter of complaint about Rafiq.

Morton’s claim included for monies owed to them, as well as to those covered by a separate contract governing Yorkshire’s women’s team.

Yorkshire settled the last of seven employment tribunal claims against them in September 2022 when they agreed to compensate Gale.