Yorkshire star ‘cleared after calling Rafiq "P***" as term was used as "banter"’

A current player at Yorkshire CCC was reportedly cleared of wrongdoing by a report into alleged institutional racism at the club after calling former teammate Azeem Rafiq a "P***".

Rafiq, who had two spells at Headingley between 2008 and 2018, has levelled a string of accusations at his former employers over the treatment he claims to have received.

Yorkshire published a summary of the report in September and admitted Rafiq, 30, was the victim of racial harassment and bullying.

But they last week said they were "pleased" to announce that none of its current employees would face any disciplinary action, despite numerous senior figures from the time of the accusations still being at the club.

ESPN Cricinfo reports that the unnamed player was cleared by the report on the basis of the term being used as "banter".

The player also reportedly admitted to telling others "don't talk to him [Rafiq], he's a P***", asking "is that your uncle?" when seeing other bearded Asian men and querying "does your dad own those?" in reference to corner shops.

It is also alleged that the player admitted recalling Rafiq breaking down in tears at one point, but insists he had no idea he was causing offence and would have stopped if Rafiq had asked.

The investigating team of lawyers who were tasked with gathering evidence for the report found the comments to be "capable of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment".

They accepted Rafiq's "evidence that he was offended, degraded or humiliated and that this amounted to harassment under the Equality Act and the Club's Equal Opportunities policy".

But the panel, charged with making conclusions and recommendations, disagreed.

They assessed: "The Panel does not accept that Azeem was offended by [the other player's] comments, either at the time they were made or subsequently."

The panel go on to state that Rafiq might be "expected to take such comments in the spirit in which they were intended (i.e. good natured banter between friends)… [so] it was not reasonable for Azeem to have been offended by [the other player] directing equally offensive or derogatory comments back at him in the same spirit of friendly banter".

Rafiq was also accused by the panel of using "offensive, racially derogatory comments" when referring to a player of Zimbabwean heritage as "Zimbo from Zimbabwe".

The panel reportedly recommended that – were Rafiq still a Yorkshire player – he should face disciplinary action for using the term.

On publishing a summary of the report, Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton admitted: "There is no question that Azeem Rafiq, during his first spell as a player at YCCC, was the victim of racial harassment.

"He was also subsequently the victim of bullying. On behalf of all at YCCC, I wish to extend my sincere, profound and unreserved apologies to Azeem and to his family."

After Yorkshire announced no current employees would face disciplinary action, a spokesperson for Rafiq said: "We note the statement released by Yorkshire County Cricket Club today. As ever, we will take time to fully respond.

"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."

The ECB have recently been sent the report by Yorkshire after months of delays and are currently reviewing the information.

Azeem Rafiq's representatives declined to comment when approached by The Mirror.

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