Former MP says he called out Yorkshire cricket racism in 2004 but was told to apologise to club

When former MP Terry Rooney raised issues of a racist culture at Yorkshire in 2004 he said bosses tried to "castigate my credibility"

Yorkshire County Cricket bosses have "shame on their heads" for failing to tackle racism at the club when issues were raised almost two decades ago, a former MP has said.

Terry Rooney, who was an MP for Bradford North for 20 years, raised questions about the club's apparent racist culture in Parliament in 2004.

Yorkshire responded at the time by demanding an apology from the MP.

Mr Rooney has now told ITV News bosses even claimed he only raised the issues to gain votes with his Muslim constituents.

The club has been mired in a racism scandal in recent weeks after a report found former player Azeem Rafiq was a victim of "racial harassment and bullying."

Chief executive Mark Arthur is the latest to resign from the club amid the fallout, while player and England captain Joe Root on Thursday said the scandal had "fractured our game and torn lives apart".

ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott reports on the latest in the fallout from a damning report

"They were just castigating my credibility, said I'd only said it under Parliamentary privilege for a headline, wanted to score some votes with Muslim voters, and that I should resign," Mr Rooney told ITV News.

"Nobody actually addressed the issue... No recognition of facts that were staring them in the face. And it's come home to roost with a vengeance now."

He claimed Yorkshire "has had a reputation for a long, long time of being very insular, very imperial" and suggested bosses would not give cricketers brought in from "overseas" a proper chance.

Mr Rooney continued: "It was just self-defeating. You have a pool of talent in the largest county in the country and you're ignoring it... They were all generating these players who were not getting a chance."

After Mr Rooney's comments in Parliament in 2004, he said bosses suggested meeting at the Headingley stadium. He couldn't make it as he was in Parliament all week, so suggested they come to his office to talk.

"They more or less said they wouldn't be seen dead in my office," he said. "It died a death, they didn't follow up. But they did maintain their denial."

A report found former player Azeem Rafiq was the victim of racist harassment and bullying at Yorkshire. Credit: PA

Now, 17 years on, the club is at the centre of a racism scandal that has led to it being banned from hosting major fixtures, an exodus of top sponsors, and widespread condemnation of its handling of former player Azeem Rafiq's allegations.

Following the resignation of Mark Arthur, the latest in a string to leave, Yorkshire said: "This is an important moment for the club which is ready to move forward with new leadership, which will be vital in driving the change we urgently need.

“We know there is still much work to be done and more difficult decisions to be made. We need to rebuild the trust of the fans, the cricketing world and the public”.

Responding to allegations of racism from several other former players, Yorkshire previously said "this kind of behaviour would be completely unacceptable to the club.

"Now we are aware of it, it goes without saying that we will investigate the allegation thoroughly," it added.

ITV News has approached Yorkshire CCC for a response to Mr Rooney's claims.

"Far too many people have known about this situation and have been part of cover ups"

But Mr Rooney believes the whole board should resign due to its "collective responsibility" over the racist culture and make way for a "completely fresh start" to welcome the next generation of cricketers.

"Those that are responsible for this situation have disappeared and will never be held to account," he said.

When asked if the crisis at Yorkshire came as a surprise, he replied: "The only surprise is that this bubble hasn't burst a lot sooner.

"Far too many people have known about this situation and have been part of cover ups and the shame is on their heads."

Joe Root said people who have committed racist abuse should be given "a second chance" if they accept they've made a mistake

His criticism came of the club came after England cricket captain and YCCC player Joe Root said the racism scandal has "fractured our game and torn lives apart".

"I just want the sport to be a place where everyone is enjoying it for the beautiful game it is and feels equal and safe," Root said in his written statement.

"It hurts knowing this has happened at YCCC so close to home. It’s my club that I care passionately about it.

"There is no debate about racism, no one side or other. It is simply intolerable. These events have fractured our game and torn lives apart."

Root later said in a press conference that he had not seen any individual instances of racism at the Club, but said the culture needs to change.

He went on to say that people found guilty of racist abuse should be given a second chance, and the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.Hours after Root's responses, Rafiq tweeted: "Disappointed is not even the feeling". The cricketer went on to say he was "incredibly hurt", and that "uncomfortable truths are hard to accept it seems".