The legal dispute between former Yorkshire cricketer, Azeem Rafiq and Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) has been settled without a non-disclosure agreement, with Rafiq receiving unreserved apologies. New club Chairman, Lord Patel, has committed to the creation of an independent reporting process which will assure future whistle-blowers of anonymity. He thanked Rafiq for “his bravery in speaking out” and condemned any justification for racism, disguised as ‘banter’.
Rafiq had opened up about his experiences at YCCC in a TV interview and when Asma Iqbal (pictured), Partner at Chadwick Lawrence, saw the interview she immediately empathised with his position and reached out to him. Hearing the accounts of racism directed at Rafiq and his unsuccessful efforts to report it through the channels at YCCC, Asma offered the support of the legal team at Chadwick Lawrence. Before the internal investigation was announced, an attempt was made to engage with, then YCCC Chairman, Roger Hutton.
After gathering detailed evidence of discrimination, Asma instructed barristers, Jennifer Robinson, Paras Gorasia and Margherita Cornaglia at Doughty Street Chambers to assist in representing Rafiq in his claim for redress.
The team collated irrefutable evidence of systemic racism at YCCC and challenged the processes that failed to scrutinise or counteract claims of unfairness. Indeed, an internal investigation at YCCC had not satisfied the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport select committee, leading to a full disclosure request and pressure from sponsors and MPs to publish an unredacted report.
With the resignation of Roger Hutton and others from YCCC, and the report now being released to parties with a legal interest, ahead of a parliamentary enquiry on November 16th, Asma feels that her client has been vindicated.
Rafiq has spoken openly about the impact his experiences at YCCC has had on his mental well-being, urging others to step forward and speak up against institutionalised racism in sport or any other place. The legal outcome also ensures that Azeem can speak candidly at the parliamentary enquiry, which is important in bringing about closure while allowing him to share his story.
Asma Iqbal says: “This case was never about damaging YCCC but about securing a meaningful change of culture at the club and eradicating racism at all levels. I’m hopeful that Lord Patel will uphold his promise to bring about significant changes. It has been my pleasure to work with Azeem Rafiq, his courage in speaking out is inspirational and I hope others will share his platform for change. Whilst this was somewhat of a personal undertaking for me, I’m grateful for the support of my colleagues and the team at Doughty Street Chambers in bringing about a satisfactory conclusion for Azeem.”