Yorkshire racism proceedings set to be heard in public after Azeem Rafiq request

Yorkshire racism proceedings set to be heard in public after Azeem Rafiq request

Disciplinary proceedings related to allegations of racism from former Yorkshire bowler Azeem Rafiq are set to be heard in public.

The PA news agency understands parties were notified by the Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) on Wednesday of the decision to hold the hearing in public.

In June the England and Wales Cricket Board charged a number of individuals over allegations made by Rafiq, and charged Yorkshire over their handling of those allegations.

The hearing is understood to have been scheduled for two weeks, starting from November 28. It will almost certainly take place in London. However, any appeal against the decision to hold it in public could lead to it being pushed back.

Rafiq has previously spoken about his desire for the hearing to take place in public, while Yorkshire are also understood to favour a public hearing.

The ECB is understood to have been neutral on the subject until a preliminary hearing took place last month, where it also came out in support of the idea of holding it in public.

There is nothing in the CDC rules preventing a hearing taking place in public, but it is an unprecedented move to do so.

Former Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale has said he will not engage with the disciplinary process
Former Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale has said he will not engage with the disciplinary process (Mike Egerton/PA)

The only individual who has confirmed their involvement in the hearing is former Yorkshire captain and first-team coach Andrew Gale.

He issued a statement in July denying the allegations against him and stating that he would not engage with the disciplinary process, which he described as “tainted”.

Rafiq first spoke about his experience of bullying and racism at Yorkshire in August 2020.

Yorkshire commissioned an investigation into those allegations, which concluded Rafiq had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying. However, Yorkshire announced in October last year no disciplinary action would be taken against any individuals in relation to the investigation. That prompted uproar, with MP Sajid Javid saying “heads should roll” at the county.

The ECB removed Yorkshire’s right to stage lucrative international matches at Headingley over its handling of the case, with senior members of the board stepping down.

Rafiq also gave powerful testimony to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee last November about his experience at Yorkshire. The ECB has since published a game-wide plan to tackle discrimination in the sport.

Following the ECB confirmation of charges against Yorkshire and a number of individuals in June, Rafiq released a statement saying: “I welcome today’s announcement and hope we can move to the hearing quickly.

“This has been another gruelling but unfortunately necessary process. It has been a long two years since I went public about my experiences, but I hope this means that no young player ever goes through such pain and alienation again. My preference would be for this hearing to take place publicly, but I am hopeful that we are at least nearing a point where there will be some sense of closure for my family and me.”

The ECB released a statement on Thursday evening confirming the CDC hearing would be held in public.

The statement read: “Following a preliminary hearing last month, the Cricket Discipline Commission has concluded that the hearing into the charges against Yorkshire County Cricket Club and a number of individuals will be held in public. Parties in the matter have the right to appeal this decision.

“The hearings are due to begin on November 28 and more details on access arrangements will be released in due course.”