New Yorkshire Cricket chairman: club needs 'urgent and seismic change' after racism row

Video report by Chris Dawkes.

The new Chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club says the club needs "urgent and seismic change" after it was rocked by racism allegations.

Lord Kamlesh Patel spoke to the media today for the first time since taking over after his predecessor Roger Hutton resigned.

It followed Yorkshire being banned from hosting international matches and major sponsors severing ties with the club over allegations of racism and bullying made by former player Azeem Rafiq.

Lord Patel apologised to Rafiq and said an employment tribunal case has been settled with him with no restrictions on what he can say publicly.

He called the investigation into Rafiq's claims "flawed."

Lord Kamlesh Patel apologises to Azeem Rafiq, whose racism allegations have rocked Yorkshire County Cricket Club in recent days

Also announced in the press conference:

  • Lord Patel revealed that the ECB has said Yorkshire would have to "address the root causes" of issues that had led to the suspension of international cricket.

  • There will be an independent whistleblowing hotline set up to create a "safe place" for people to report concerns.

  • There will be an independent review of processes and procedures at the club.

  • The report into Rafiq's allegations will be released to those who have a "legal interest", including the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee Julian Knight.

  • Staff at Yorkshire County Cricket Club have faced death threats in recent days. West Yorkshire Police says it has been in contact with the club and is "continuing to liaise with them in relation to any concerns raised."

Lord Patel said: "I've been appointed with a clear remit of righting the wrongs of the past and making sure that this club is an inclusive home for aspiring players in the future.

"The revelations about complaints of racial discrimination and their handling at this cricket club over the past eighteen months have rocked the sporting world. But let me be clear from the outset: racism, or any form of discrimination, is not banter.

"I thank Asim Rafiq for his bravery in speaking out. Asim is a whistleblower and should be praised as such. And should never have been put through this. And I'd like to apologise to him."

Azeem Rafiq has thanked those who have supported him since he made racism allegations last year

Patel's reference to "banter" came after that term was reportedly used in the county's report into Rafiq's allegations.

Lord Patel said he would look at "pattern of behaviours" which could suggest institutional racism at the club.

In a statement, Azeem Rafiq thanked "the public, politicians, the media and the many players and coaches who have supported me both publicly and privately."

He said: "You have given me strength to get through the bad times, of which there have been too many since I first spoke about my experiences."

The player thanked Lord Patel and said: "It should not have taken the rest of the club a year to realise I would not be silenced through an NDA. I spoke out because I wanted to create change at the club. I brought a legal claim because the club refused to acknowledge the problem and create change. For the first time that I can remember, I have hope this might happen – but I will be watching and continue to campaign to ensure that it does."

He said Yorkshire Cricket Club and the sport in general "desperately need reform" and pledged to continue campaigning against institutional racism.

He said: “This is a good start, but I want to reiterate my call for the change that must come next – and one that must happen quickly."