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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Tuesday evening UK news briefing: Azeem Rafiq’s tearful testimony

Evening briefing: Today’s essential headlines

Russian relations | Germany has suspended the certification process for the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia – something Vladimir Putin is likely to see as a hostile move that could fuel growing tensions with the West. Europe Editor James Crisp explains how the pipe, which would allow Russia to bypass existing ones through Ukraine, presents Angela Merkel’s likely successor with his first political hurdle.

The big story: Racism is institutional in cricket – Rafiq

The allegations came thick and fast – and so did the emotion. At an explosive hearing today, ex-Yorkshire County Cricket Club player Azeem Rafiq repeatedly broke down in tears as he described his “inhuman” racist treatment at the team. The former captain of England Under-19s, who is of Pakistani descent, said he received sustained abuse and contemplated suicide. “I felt isolated, humiliated at times,” he said in testimony that revealed how he and other players with Asian backgrounds were subjected to comments such as: “You lot sit over there”. When asked by Damian Green if he thought cricket was institutionally racist, Rafiq replied: “Yes, I do.” Most graphically of all, he claimed that as an aspiring 15-year-old club cricketer he had been restrained while red wine was poured down his throat. In other bombshell evidence, Rafiq:

Read our full recap of his evidence amid a racism row that has shaken the sport and cost Yorkshire the right to host England internationals.

Rafiq’s voice cracked and he fought back tears on several occasions. But he spoke to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee with clarity and resolve for almost an hour and 40 minutes – interrupted only by one brief adjournment when emotion got the better of him. Parliamentary Sketchwriter Tim Stanley watched the proceedings and says many will be wondering if Yorkshire does not need reform – it needs fumigating.

Liverpool attack: Are migrants faking conversions?

As Liverpool continues to reel from Remembrance Sunday’s bomb attack, counter-terror police are examining the background of the man who blew himself up outside the city’s Women’s Hospital. Concerns were today raised over the possible role Liverpool Cathedral played in helping asylum seekers convert to Christianity in order to help their applications. Hundreds of Muslims – including suicide bomber Emad Al Swealmeen – have been welcomed into the Church of England in recent years after completing a short five-week course at the city’s Anglican cathedral. Crime Correspondent Martin Evans reports that critics have questioned how many of those converting have done so fraudulently in order to help their asylum applications with the Home Office. As detectives work to establish a motive for the attack, Chief Reporter Robert Mendick has the full minute-by-minute story of the day terror came to Liverpool.

Charles and Camilla visit baptism site of Jesus

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall today dipped their fingers in water from the holy River Jordan, which is used to baptise the babies of the Royal Family. As Royal Correspondent Hannah Furness reports, the couple visited one of the most important religious sites in Jordan and were given the honour of walking down to the riverbed to see the spot where Christians believed Jesus Christ was baptised. Meanwhile, the Queen gave an address to bishops and clergy, delivered to the Church of England’s national assembly by the Earl of Wessex.

Comment and analysis

Around the world: Belarus ‘arming migrants’

Polish security forces have used water cannons and tear gas to disperse migrants across the border in Belarus after they were pelted with stun grenades and stones in some of the worst violence seen since the start of the migrant crisis on the border. Video shows migrants hurling missiles over the fence separating the countries at the ranks of soldiers and police officers in riot gear, who responded with tear gas and thunder flashes. As Poland’s defence ministry claimed that Belarus had supplied the migrants with stun grenades, Matthew Day has our report from Warsaw.

Tuesday long-read: Sun sets on 130 years of Royal Dutch history

For more than a century, Royal Dutch Shell boasted historic links with the royal family of the Netherlands. Those ties are to be dramatically cut in favour of Britain. Matt Oliver explains why it is jumping ship. Read the article.

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