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ECB promises 'fair and thorough' investigation as Yorkshire take no action over Azeem Rafiq allegations

A view of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club's signage PA Photos/Getty Images

The ECB has pledged to conduct a "thorough and fair" investigation into Azeem Rafiq's allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, after the club itself insisted that no disciplinary action against its employees, players or executives was warranted.

In a statement, Yorkshire insisted that, for legal reasons, they remain unable to publish the full findings of the report commissioned by an independent panel last year, but the ECB subsequently confirmed receipt of a copy, pending an employment tribunal which will now serve to address the issues that Rafiq raised in a series of interviews, including with ESPNcricinfo, in 2020.

"The ECB has this afternoon received a copy of the report carried out on behalf of Yorkshire CCC into the allegations made by Azeem Rafiq, together with assurances from the club to cooperate fully with the ongoing regulatory process," read a statement from the board.

"This is a matter with many serious allegations at its heart and the ECB's regulatory team will now consider the Report as part of its investigation.

"We anticipate that it will take time for the regulatory process to reach its conclusion, but it is imperative that this is completed thoroughly and with fairness to all involved."

Yorkshire issued an apology to Rafiq in August, acknowledging that he had been the "the victim of inappropriate behaviour" during his two stints at the club, and subsequently distributed a summary of the report and its recommendations, which detailed seven instances of racial harassment and bullying that were upheld by the investigation.

That panel has now been disbanded, with the club placing on record its thanks to Dr Samir Pathak, Stephen Willis, Rehana Azib, Mesba Ahmed and Helen Hyde for their "work and insight" in the case.

"Ultimately the issues raised by Azeem Rafiq are going to be considered not only by the panel but also the employment tribunal and the ECB," the club statement continued.

"The club has also carried out their own internal investigation following the findings in the report, after which they are able to report that they have come to the conclusion that there is no conduct or action taken by any of its employees, players or executives that warrants disciplinary action.

"None of this diminishes the importance of the findings or that fact that there is much the club can learn from the report," the statement continued. "It was important for Azeem to raise the issues and without him doing so we would not have the panel's recommendations which are an important part of the club's continuing journey."

Responding on Twitter, Rafiq took a dim view of the club's latest steps to bring the issue to a close, accusing the panellists of seeking to protect Yorkshire's reputation rather than get to the root of his grievances, while a spokesman for the player subsequent called on the club board to resign.

"Wow, just when you think this club couldn't get more embarrassing, you find a way," Rafiq wrote. "Still awaiting the FULL report. Thanks for mentioning the people that have provided your PROTECTION & give green light to RACISM. Interesting timing again."

"We note the statement released by Yorkshire County Cricket Club today. As ever, we will take time to fully respond," added Rafiq's spokesman.

"However, we do also note that the club has come to the conclusion that no employees, players or executives will face disciplinary action. This is despite Yorkshire County Cricket Club's admission that Azeem was the victim of racial harassment and bullying. This is despite Yorkshire County Cricket Club's admission that it failed to follow its own policy and investigate allegations of racism as recently as 2018.

"It is inconceivable that there are no current employees who should not have been disciplined for their conduct. Yorkshire's failures continue to mount up and it is time that board members - for once - do the decent thing and resign."

Yorkshire's statement concluded: "Club chair Roger Hutton believes the club and everyone connected to it should be proud of the work that the club has done to improve diversity and inclusion prior to his involvement, but equally acknowledges there remains much to be done going forward.

"The club is fully supportive of what is a strong and talented team which is working hard on the recommendations on the way forward for Yorkshire County Cricket Club and looks forward being able to report on further developments over the coming months."