Yorkshire County Cricket Club settle race discrimination and whistleblowing claims
Lord Patel of Bradford yesterday announced that Yorkshire County Cricket Club has settled the employment claim brought by Azeem Rafiq, providing an unreserved apology to Azeem and his family, recognising Azeem as a whistle-blower on racism and thanking him for his bravery. The settlement includes compensation, no non-disclosure agreement, as well as a donation to a local Yorkshire mental health charity of Azeem’s choice and a commitment by the club to set up a bursary in his name to support underprivileged children in Yorkshire to access and participate in cricket.
The claim arose following Azeem’s decision to speak out publicly about the racism he experienced at the club and the club’s failure to take action in response to his concerns. An investigation by the club followed, which Lord Patel has described today as flawed and admitted was a process that Azeem should never have been put through. The findings, which found that use of a racial slur towards Azeem was banter, sparked national and international headlines and statements of concern from across the political divide. The DCMS Committee announced an inquiry, calling Azeem and Club officials to attend to give evidence. Many of Yorkshire’s sponsors have pulled their support for the Club.
In announcing the settlement, Lord Patel also announced the creation of a new anonymous whistleblowing and independent reporting process for all complaints to ensure that no one else will go through what Azeem had to.
Lord Patel said:
“I thank Azeem Rafiq for his bravery in speaking out. Azeem is a whistleblower and should be praised as such, he should never have been put through this…We’re sorry for what you and your family have experienced and the way in which we’ve handled this. I thank Azeem for his bravery in speaking out. Let me be clear from the outset, racism or discrimination in any form is not banter.”
Azeem said in a statement:
“I want to thank my family, the public, politicians, the media and the many players and coaches who have supported me both publicly and privately. You have given me strength to get through the bad times, of which there have been too many since I first spoke about my experiences. I also want to thank Lord Patel for making the offer and sorting this out within 72 hours of his appointment. It should not have taken the rest of the club a year to realise I would not be silenced through an NDA. I spoke out because I wanted to create change at the club. I brought a legal claim because the club refused to acknowledge the problem and create change. For the first time that I can remember, I have hope this might happen – but I will be watching and continue to campaign to ensure that it does.
As Lord Patel said, this is just the start if we are to make cricket open to everyone, no matter their background. Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the sport at large desperately need reform. I will continue to campaign against institutional racism and look forward to speaking at the select committee hearing next week. I urge others who have suffered to come forward. There is strength in numbers and I will be right behind you…
The settlement and apology have attracted widespread national and international media attention:
Yorkshire Cricket Club settles employment tribunal with Azeem Rafiq: New chair Lord Kamlesh Patel thanks 'brave whistle-blower' for speaking out on ex-stars - insisting 'racism is NOT banter' after board's initial ruling – Daily Mail