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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Yorkshire receive 36 calls to whistleblower hotline amid Azeem Rafiq racism row

A hotline launched by Yorkshire in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism furore has heard from 36 potential whistleblowers in the past week. 

The reporting service was initiated by club chair Lord Kamlesh Patel as part of attempts to restore trust following its initially sluggish response to the Rafiq case. Rafiq had forecast the “floodgates” had opened for other victims after he laid bare his turmoil before MPs at a parliamentary hearing last week. 

Telegraph Sport had already reported how a “call for evidence” from the ECB-appointed Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket had also taken more than 1,000 calls. At Yorkshire, Mohinderpal Sethi QC has been appointed to lead the process of reviewing all submissions and his team will make direct contact with those who have lodged complaints. 

“I welcome the opportunity to lead this important independent investigation process,” he said. “Those who report their complaints to the whistleblowing hotline should feel reassured that these matters will be addressed in a careful and impartial manner.” 

Patel, meanwhile, reiterated his call for those who may still have stories to share to come forward. “It is essential that those who have experienced or witnessed racism, discrimination and abuse are able to come forward to share their experiences. I thank all of those who have contacted the hotline so far,” he said. 

“Lasting and authentic change, particularly in the face of a complex and systemic issue, takes consideration and time, and cannot happen without the voices of those who have suffered. Only through committing to listen, and to believe, those who have bravely shared their experiences – and those still to do so – can we truly understand the scale of the issue.”

Meanwhile, former England batter Alex Hales has kept his Big Bash contract with Sydney Thunder after holding talks with the franchise. Hales had denied Rafiq’s allegations that he named his pet dog dog “Kevin” as part of a racially derogatory joke involving other team-mates, but has also apologised for “reckless and foolish behaviour” relating to pictures of him from a 2009 fancy dress party with his face painted black. 

Hales insists that was a misguided attempt to pay tribute to rap artist Tupac Shakur and the 32-year-old was invited to discuss inclusivity at greater length by Cricket New South Wales chief executive Lee Germon ahead of his overseas stint with Thunder next month. 

“There is no place in cricket – or society – for racism or discrimination,” said Germon. “One of the hallmarks of Thunder Nation’s success is the team embraces diversity, and is a club for all. If we really believe that we also must accept people who have made mistakes. I’ve spoken to Alex, I’ve watched his apology, and have no doubt he is remorseful for the photograph and the other errors of judgement he made as a young man. Alex appreciates that going by today’s standards people will question his judgement and actions and he’s offered them a sincere apology.”

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