Mehmooda Duke quit as chair of Leicestershire after feeling 'intimidated' and 'coerced' by ECB

·3-min read
Mehmooda Duke during the virtual press day introducing new CEO (chief executive officer) Sean Jarvis, Leicestershire County Cricket Club at the Fischer County Ground, Grace Road, Leicester Leicestershire County Cricket Club - Shutterstock
Mehmooda Duke during the virtual press day introducing new CEO (chief executive officer) Sean Jarvis, Leicestershire County Cricket Club at the Fischer County Ground, Grace Road, Leicester Leicestershire County Cricket Club - Shutterstock

One of only two non-white chairs of a first-class county quit after being left “traumatised” following attempts to coerce her into endorsing the game’s response to its racism scandal, she has allegedly told MPs.

The England & Wales Cricket Board has been plunged into a fresh crisis over a letter Telegraph Sport has been told was sent to parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media & Sport select committee by Mehmooda Duke.

Duke quit as chair of Leicestershire in November – calling for “fresh leadership at national level” – on the eve of the unveiling of the ECB’s plan to avoid a repeat of the racism scandal that has engulfed the game.

Telegraph Sport has been told she wrote to the select committee the following month saying she had felt “intimidated” “coerced” and “manoeuvred” by the ECB, that she had been treated as a “token woman of colour”, and that she had been in danger of being “rolled out as a poster girl” for the governing body.

She was also said to have written that she had been left “traumatised” by her dealings with the organisation.

Duke’s contact with the select committee emerged on Tuesday during its latest hearing into racism in cricket, at which it was also revealed she had complained to the ECB about her alleged treatment.

The governing body confirmed its board was looking into the matter but repeatedly refused to answer questions about it, citing “confidentiality”.

That included questions from Kevin Brennan MP featuring what Telegraph Sport has been told were excerpts from her letter to the committee, such as, “Did she feel intimidated, coerced, and manoeuvred by the ECB and traumatised by the experience of being on the ECB?”, “Did she feel there was talk of partnership or there was total lip service in her dealings with ECB?, and, “Did she feel like she was a token woman of colour being rolled out as a poster girl for the ECB?”

Julian Knight MP, the committee chair, also asked: “Do you think she was legitimate in feeling that she was being used as tokenism when it came to endorsing the ECB’s response to the racism inquiry?”

When he did not receive a direct reply, Knight said: “That’s what she’s told us.”

One question that did elicit a direct response was put to acting ECB chair Barry O’Brien, who had taken up his post the month before Duke quit.

Brennan asked him: “Was she unhappy in any way with any of your personal dealings with her in the way that you've handled her concerns?”

O’Brien replied: “Yeah. She may have been.”

Telegraph Sport has been told Duke’s letter to the committee accused O’Brien of forwarding an email she had sent him to ECB chief executive Tom Harrison.

The email was said to contain her concerns about the ECB’s response to the racism scandal.

Duke and the ECB did not respond to requests for comment.

Tuesday’s hearing also saw Knight ask ECB board member Baroness Amos: “Do you think that it's rather disturbing that a time when you talk about extra diversity on the board, the one person who is a chair from an ethnic minority decides to leave as a result of inaction in this area? That’s a hammer blow to the ambitions of the ECB.”

Baroness Amos, who said she had spoken to Duke and had been given permission to share issues she had raised with other directors, replied: “I think it’s a huge pity that she has resigned.”

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