Azeem Rafiq’s public hearing demands threaten to leave Yorkshire racism case in limbo

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The long-running inquiry into alleged racism in Yorkshire heads into a preliminary disciplinary hearing on Monday, which threatens to descend into chaos and potentially collapse completely.

Azeem Rafiq, the key witness in the ECB charges against seven people, including former England captain Michael Vaughan, Ashes winners Matthew Hoggard and Tim Bresnan, former Yorkshire captain and manager Andrew Gale, and the club himself, is pushing for it to be held in public.

Cricket Disciplinary Committee hearings are regularly held behind closed doors, but the two-day preliminaries will allow respondents to lodge claims and it appears the current Yorkshire regime supports the wishes of Rafiq, who has suggested that evidence should be examined in the open air in June. .

Although there is no precedent for it to be held in this way, ECB regulations state: “Subject to observance of the rules of natural justice, ensuring that the process complies with a fair and equitable review of the charge, the Disciplinary Committee will determine its own procedure.

They must also consider that this is a higher-profile case than any other in the history of the sport, and one that represents the first opportunity for Vaughan – who is known to have spent huge sums on legal advice in addition to suffer a loss of income – to respond to the allegations against him.

Vaughan, 47, denies them, but he was dropped by the BBC last year after former Yorkshire spinner Rafiq claimed that in 2009 he told a group of non-white players: ” There are too many of you, we have to do something about it.” .’

Inquiry into alleged racism in Yorkshire threatens to descend into chaos and collapse

Azeem Rafiq, the key witness in ECB charges against seven people, pushes for Monday's preliminary disciplinary hearing to be held in public

Azeem Rafiq, the key witness in ECB charges against seven people, pushes for Monday’s preliminary disciplinary hearing to be held in public

However, if the appeal is dismissed and Rafiq subsequently refuses to appear behind closed doors, it would leave all parties in limbo as the saga is already in its third year.

On Twitter, Rafiq again entered the line insisting that the hearing should be open. “I understand the hearing is on Monday and there is an attempt to intimidate and scare. Why is everyone so afraid of transparency?”

The CDC process — in which a three-member panel determines guilt or otherwise — tends to take place in private because the hearing is not covered by privilege, which spares witnesses potential prosecution.

This contrasts with last November’s appearance before a House of Commons Select Committee in which Rafiq, 31, was protected by parliamentary privilege by making a series of allegations and telling MPs that his career of two separate stints in Yorkshire had been cut short by racism.

As the burden of proof rests with the ECB and the standard of proof being the civil standard, it is for the governing body, which never named the seven people after carrying out its initial investigations, to demonstrate, according to the preponderance of the probability that discriminatory behavior has taken place.

Whether other witnesses would feel comfortable testifying in a public environment is debatable. One of them is England spinner Adil Rashid, who is currently playing at the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.

But Rafiq's wishes run counter to typical cricketing disciplinary hearings, which are held in private

But Rafiq’s wishes run counter to typical cricketing disciplinary hearings, which are held in private

Details of the full hearing are expected to be debated over the next two days, although some did not recognize the legitimacy of the process.

Gale, who received a six-figure settlement from Yorkshire after they admitted unfairly sacking him in light of Rafiq’s accusations, refused to cooperate while former club chairman Colin Graves, Steve Denison and Roger Hutton slammed his lack of independence and failure. to engage with Headingley executives during the period to which the accusations of discredit relate.

The ECB is also ready to investigate allegations that Rafiq used anti-Semitic and homophobic language during his playing career, which could lead to him being prosecuted for further misconduct, given his willingness to investigate historical cases.

Rafiq said a series of bombshell allegations reported by the Daily Mail were “categorically untrue” and took to Twitter on Saturday to share a text from an opponent – whose name has been blacked out – that made it clear that he was unaware of an alleged insult made about team-mate Paul Wilkinson’s sexuality during a club game between Barnsley and Darfield in 2009.

“I didn’t hear anything and the player didn’t say anything to me or the team after that. I said it too. No matter what you have said or done in the past, people need to stand up and admit that there are far worse things going on in society that are far more important than individuals,” the text reads.

Duncan Hague, the permanent referee, said of the incident: “Rafiq was lining up near the wicket. He called Paul Wilkinson “f****t”. I heard it, but it was towards the end of the game and I didn’t want things to get out of hand, so I said no. I was trying to calm things down. I have since apologized to Paul.

Rafiq also responded to the posting of a social media post that he and his family were being forced to leave the UK due to abuse and intimidation saying it was the “sad reality of s ‘Express”.

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