Azeem Rafiq: Yorkshire Post has 'a lot to answer for' over coverage of racism row

Azeem Rafiq
Azeem Rafiq was giving evidence to MPs for the second time about his experiences since first raising concerns about racism in cricket. Credit: Parliament TV

Former cricketer Azeem Rafiq has blamed The Yorkshire Post newspaper for fuelling abuse directed at him after he spoke out about racism in the game.

The ex-bowler, who sparked a crisis in the sport when he claimed he had been the victim of institutional racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, said the paper "took a position" against him early on.

He told a committee of MPs articles in the Yorkshire Post had extensively covered the outcome of an independent investigation into his claims, but "failed to report the central conclusion that I was the victim of racial harrassment and bullying".

The paper's editor has strongly refuted his claims.

Giving evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee Rafiq, 31, said: "The leaders at The Yorkshire Post have a lot to answer for. Every time there's an article, it's created a wave of online abuse. I got shouted at through the shop window.

"At times I've walked down the street fearing for my life."

Last month, Rafiq told ITV News he was moving his family abroad for their safety.

Cricket journalist George Dobell, who also gave evidence at the session, said The Yorkshire Post had been "the voice of the racist" and had "intimidated and bullied" Rafiq.

"Having to leave the country is not an easy decision," he told the committee.

"I knew that I would be targeted, but the way that's impacted my family is something that The Yorkshire Post should be held responsible for."

The editor of The Yorkshire Post, James Mitchinson, issued a statement refuting Rafiq's claims.

He said: "I absolutely reject the allegations made by Azeem Rafiq and George Dobell that The Yorkshire Post enabled a culture of racism in its reporting of failings at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

"The Yorkshire Post has repeatedly acknowledged the racism suffered by Mr Rafiq and we have been scrupulously objective, impartial and professional in our reporting of the story. Our readers would expect no less from us.

"Finally, Mr Rafiq can be assured that The Yorkshire Post remains committed to diligent editing, listening to and telling all sides of the stories we cover with honesty, integrity and impartiality."

Rafiq had earlier described the abuse his family had to deal with since he first spoke to MPs in November 2021 about racism in cricket.

He said: "The downside and the difficult bits have been that my family has been the target of abuse, threats and attacks. Recently at my family house there was a bloke in broad daylight walked in and out of the garden on the phone before defecating. Bringing a loo roll. It looked very planned."

"If I looked 13 months on from me opening my heart out, all that has changed is that me and my family have been driven out of the country, and that's the sad element of it."

Rafiq thanked those who had supported him, but added: "Although everybody made this about me, it's not about me. I spoke out to make cricket a better place so my kids could go and play.

"It feels like cricket is very much in denial. My experiences have been vindicated, corroborated time and time again through various different organisations, yet I sit here 13 months on, and there's still a group of people out there who feel like cricket's the victim in this."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.