ECB’s Azeem Rafiq racism investigation has ‘failed everyone’ – Matthew Hoggard

Matthew Hoggard says the disciplinary process relating to the Azeem Rafiq racism investigation has “failed everyone” after withdrawing his co-operation from the process.

Hoggard, who was part of the England team which won the 2005 Ashes, faces four charges from the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Hoggard told BBC Sport: “The process has failed everybody. Every party involved has a problem with the way this process has been dealt with.

Cricket – England Media Session – Lord's Cricket Ground
Matthew Hoggard says the investigation process into the Azeem Rafiq racism and bullying allegations has “failed everyone” (Sean Dempsey/PA)

“Azeem [Rafiq] has a problem with it, all the respondents have, [former Yorkshire chairman] Lord Patel has, Yorkshire have. There has got to be a better way.”

The charges Hoggard faces relate to his alleged use of racist language from his time at Yorkshire.

And he insisted he had taken the decision to pull out of the process because he did not believe it was “fair”.

Hoggard added: “I’m pulling out because I don’t think it’s a fair process.

“There are no winners in this. It is not an admission of guilt. The people who know the truth, know the truth. That is all that matters to me.”

The case is due to be heard in public by a Cricket Discipline Commission panel at the start of next month but Hoggard is the latest to withdraw from the process due to concerns.

Hoggard’s former Yorkshire team-mate Andrew Gale, another of the individuals charged, announced last year he was not willing to engage with the process, which he described as “tainted”.

Rafiq alleged to MPs when appearing before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee in November 2021 that Hoggard had used the phrase “elephant washer” towards him, and subjected him to abuse “on a daily basis…all day, every day”.

Rafiq also alleged Hoggard made players of Asian heritage sit together in the changing room. During his oral evidence, Rafiq did credit Hoggard with having made contact to apologise.

The ECB announced last June it had charged a number of individuals with improper conduct and alleged breaches of its anti-discrimination code. Yorkshire were also charged over their handling of the allegations.

Responding to Hoggard’s withdrawal, and reports that two other individuals had also withdrawn, the ECB said: “Individuals are entitled to choose not to participate in the hearings if they wish, but the cases will still be heard in their absence and we are satisfied that the disciplinary process in this matter has been both rigorous and fair.

“The ECB’s investigation and disciplinary process has been overseen by an independent committee and specialist leading King’s Counsel (KC).

“As with any case before the Cricket Discipline Commission, defendants are entitled to a fair hearing by an independent and experienced CDC Panel where they can call witnesses, and they can also challenge the evidence in support of the charge, including through cross-examination of the ECB’s witnesses. It is entirely the decision of defendants if they choose not to take advantage of this opportunity.

“At the end of the hearing it is for the independent CDC Panel, not the ECB, to determine guilt or otherwise and any sanction.”