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Q&A: Key questions ahead of public hearing examining Azeem Rafiq’s racism claims

Azeem Rafiq will be the key witness at a Cricket Discipline Commission panel hearing which starts on Wednesday (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)
Azeem Rafiq will be the key witness at a Cricket Discipline Commission panel hearing which starts on Wednesday (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)

A public hearing examining allegations of racism and discriminatory behaviour connected to Yorkshire is set to begin on Wednesday.

Here, the PA news agency takes a closer look.

What are the origins of this hearing?

Former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq first alleged he had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying during his two stints at the county in interviews given in 2020.

The county commissioned an independent report and in September 2021 a summary of that report was published, confirming seven of the 43 allegations Rafiq made had been upheld. Yorkshire apologised and accepted Rafiq had been “the victim of inappropriate behaviour”, however a month later they confirmed no individuals would face disciplinary action as a result of the investigation.

The England and Wales Cricket Board launched its own investigation and in June last year, issued charges against Yorkshire and seven individuals.

A three-person Cricket Discipline Commission panel will hear the case between March 1 and 9 in London, with Rafiq the key witness.

Who were the people charged?

The seven individuals charged, in alphabetical order, were Gary Ballance, John Blain, Tim Bresnan, Andrew Gale, Matthew Hoggard, Richard Pyrah and Michael Vaughan.

They were each charged with alleged breaches of ECB directive 3.3 – “conduct which is improper or which may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket or which may bring the ECB, the game of cricket or any cricketer into disrepute”.

Will everyone appear?

Only Vaughan out of the individuals charged is set to appear. He categorically denies making a discriminatory comment in a conversation with Rafiq and a group of other Yorkshire players of Asian ethnicity in 2009. Ballance has admitted liability in response to the charge against him for using racially discriminatory language, while the other five have said they will not engage with the process.

Gale said last year the process was “tainted” while Hoggard said earlier this year that the ECB had “failed everyone”, including Rafiq, in its investigation. The charges against those five individuals will be heard by the panel in their absence.

What about Yorkshire?

The county will not participate in the hearing either after admitting liability to four amended charges they were facing. The ECB said on February 7 these included “a failure to address systemic use of racist and/or discriminatory language over a prolonged period and a failure to take adequate action in respect of allegations of racist and/or discriminatory behaviour”.

Last week Yorkshire confirmed one of the charges they had admitted to related to the deletion and destruction of emails and documents, which they said had occurred prior to the appointment of current Yorkshire chair Lord Kamlesh Patel.

Will the panel issue judgements in the case at the end of the hearing?

It is expected that judgement will be reserved on all outstanding charges until a later date.

If found liable, what sort of sanction could the individuals expect?

The precise nature of the charge or charges facing each individual has not been published. Sanctions open to CDC panels where charges are found proven include, but are not limited to: a caution, a reprimand, an unlimited fine, suspension or termination of registration or an order to complete an education or training course.

Yorkshire could face a points deduction or suspension from ECB competitions in relation to the charges they have admitted. But sanctions on any admitted or proven charges will be determined at a later date.