Yorkshire racism row continues – Timeline – Chief executive Mark Arthur quits
Yorkshire chief executive Mark Arthur has quit his post with immediate effect in the latest departure in the wake of Azeem Rafiq’s claims of institutional racism.
Here we provide a timeline of developments so far.
September 2, 2020 – In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, former England Under-19 captain Rafiq reveals: “I know how close I was to committing suicide during my time at Yorkshire” over what he describes as “institutional racism” at the county.
September 3, 2020 – Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton confirms a formal investigation into Rafiq’s claims will “start in a matter of days” and be conducted “thoroughly, impartially and with urgency”, while Hanif Malik, the chair of the club’s Equality and Diversity Committee, is in contact with Rafiq.
September 5, 2020 – Independent law firm Squire Patton Boggs is hired by Yorkshire to lead an investigation and review into the racism experienced by Rafiq.
November 13, 2020 – Rafiq reveals details of the racism he faced at Yorkshire in a release issued through his legal firm Chadwick Lawrence LLP. He reveals non-white players were called “P***s” and “elephant washers”, while the drinking culture at the club is highlighted with regard to insensitivity around Muslim attitudes to alcohol.
December 14, 2020 – Chadwick Lawrence LLP confirms Rafiq has filed a legal claim against Yorkshire under the Equality Act, claiming direct discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race, as well as victimisation and detriment as a result of his efforts to address racism at the club.
June 17, 2021 – Yorkshire confirm they have failed to “resolve the issues between the club and Azeem Rafiq” through the process of judicial mediation, with the case still within the employment tribunal process and set to be listed for a private case management conference.
August 18, 2021 – England and Wales Cricket Board chair Ian Watmore calls on Yorkshire to provide a copy of the investigation’s findings after he confirms the independent enquiry had sent its conclusions to the county, with Rafiq revealing his exasperation with the continued delays to the process.
August 19, 2021 – Rafiq accuses Yorkshire of “fudging” his claims of institutional racism after the county apologise to the former spinner for being the “victim of inappropriate behaviour” but insist “many of the allegations were not upheld” in a lengthy statement following the conclusion of the enquiry.
September 8, 2021 – Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chair Julian Knight MP tells Yorkshire to publish the report into Rafiq’s claims of racism, stating: “It is crucial that the process, the report and its full findings are made public and open to scrutiny.”
September 10, 2021 – Yorkshire release a summarised version of their independent report, where they apologise and accept Rafiq had been the victim of “racial harassment and bullying” in his two spells at the club between 2008 and 2018, but after only seven of Rafiq’s 43 allegations were upheld the county insist there is insufficient evidence to prove or disprove institutionalised racism.
October 7, 2021 – A spokesperson for Rafiq accuses Yorkshire of “protecting the players and a coach who they now acknowledge used either racist language or were bullying” with the full report still not published.
November 2, 2021 – ESPNcricinfo reveals details of the report into Rafiq’s claims, which includes the admission of one senior player that he used the word “P***” in reference to Rafiq, but Yorkshire conclude the incidents in question amounted to “friendly banter”. Health secretary Sajid Javid says “heads should roll” at Yorkshire in the wake of mounting political pressure surrounding Rafiq’s long-running claims, while chairman Hutton is called to face the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
November 3, 2021 – Emerald Group Publishing, Yorkshire Tea and Anchor Butter all end their association with Yorkshire over the handling of Rafiq’s allegations. Meanwhile, former England batter Gary Ballance reveals he used “a racial slur” against Rafiq but claimed both men “said things privately to each other which were not acceptable”. Rafiq appeared to question the timing after he tweeted, “Funny how things change from complete denial to I accepted everything over a 14-month period?”
November 4, 2021 – The ECB suspends Yorkshire from hosting international or major matches “until it has clearly demonstrated that it can meet the standards expected of an international venue, ECB member and first-class county”, while Ballance is “suspended indefinitely” from England selection.
November 5, 2021 – Ahead of an emergency board meeting Hutton resigns as Yorkshire chairman, calling on the executive board to follow suit and saying he was “saddened” after claiming the ECB declined to help in their enquiry. Lord Patel is appointed as the new chair, with board members Malik and Stephen Willis also resigning. Former Yorkshire all-rounder Rana Naved-ul-Hasan claims he heard ex-England captain Michael Vaughan make racially insensitive comments to Asian players at the club, allegations Vaughan denies. The BBC later confirms Vaughan will not appear on the next edition of ‘The Tuffers and Vaughan Show’ on BBC Radio 5 Live.
November 11, 2021 – Mark Arthur resigned as Yorkshire’s chief executive following intense pressure. Rafiq renewed his longstanding calls for Arthur and director of cricket Martyn Moxon to resign after reaching a settlement in his employment tribunal against the county earlier in the week, with those sentiments echoed by culture minister Chris Philp in the House of Commons. Moxon remains signed off with a “stress-related illness” but Arthur followed the lead of Hutton by leaving his post at Headingley.
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