Former Yorkshire Cricket head coach Andrew Gale has today broken his silence on the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal in a blistering statement in which he insists he will not be attending a disciplinary hearing set up by the ECB.
Gale accuses the governing body of orchestrating a ‘witch hunt’ with Yorkshire that has destroyed his career.
In the highly-emotional 3,500 statement Gale launches a devastating attack on the ECB, Yorkshire and Julian Knight MP for their handling of the Azeem Rafiq racism affair, which he claimed has left him with no faith that he will receive a fair hearing at Lord’s.
This is Gale’s first public comment since he was accused of racist abuse and bullying by Rafiq at a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee hearing chaired by Knight last November, which led to him being sacked by Yorkshire the following month and charged by the ECB a fortnight ago.
The 38-year-old has always denied those claims and after keeping his own counsel for seven months has finally hit back with a series of allegations of his own.
Gale, along with former England captain Michael Vaughan and five others have been charged by the cricket’s governing body after its investigation into alleged racism at Yorkshire.
But today, Gale, who was a double Championship-winning captain at Headingley before moving onto the coaching staff, issued the statement in which he claims:
- The ECB charged him with racism offences without conducting an interview and refused several of his requests to set one up, leading him to conclude they are pursuing a witch hunt.
- The ECB are looking for ‘scapegoats’ as he has twice previously been cleared of the allegations made by Rafiq, firstly by an independent report from law firm Squire Patton Boggs, whose conclusions were then reviewed and upheld by an independent panel.
- Yorkshire chairman Lord Kamlesh Patel is pursuing a ‘crusade’ against former members of staff, 16 of whom were sacked without warning last December, many of them only learning of their fate in the Daily Mail.
- Yorkshire have conceded the 16 former staff member’s claims of unfair dismissal, as Sportsmail revealed last month, with the amount of damages awarded to be decided at an Employment Tribunal in October.
- Rafiq’s allegations against him are completely unfounded and have left him angry.
- Knight failed to scrutinise Rafiq at the DCMS hearing on the basis that the independent report into his allegations was ‘difficult to read.’
- On several occasions over the last few months his family have been forced to move out of their home to avoid violent abuse.
Former Yorkshire player and director of cricket Andrew Gale (pictured) is among six former employees who made a claim of unfair dismissal
Azeem Rafiq (pictured) during a testimony to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee following his allegations last year
Rafiq pictured bowling for Yorkshire during a County Championship match against Surrey in September 2012
The sensational statement follows an employment tribunal last week which concluded Gale, and other former YCCC staff, were wrongly sacked on December 3, last year. The group are now expecting a pay-out when the tribunal reconvenes in October.
Azeem Rafiq never raised any issues with me as a team-mate or when I was coach
I deny each and every allegation that Azeem raised with YCCC and then via the ECB suggesting that I have used racist language and bullied him
I was originally stunned but I am now angry that he has raised such allegations against me.
Azeem is a complex character. At times he performed to a very high standard and at others he didn’t
My differences of opinion with him only related to cricket matters and not race or religion.
(During the investigation) it became clear that Azeem and his good friend Gary Ballance had a close relationship in which they used insulting language
towards one another. That language was never used by them in my presence
None of the allegations that Azeem raised which made reference to me were upheld
Everyone at the Club was stunned by his allegations. The media had already branded the Club and the staff as racists and from our perspective little was being done to change that view.
I haven’t met anybody who wasn’t astounded to hear that the Chairman of the DCMS, Julian Knight MP, made a public announcement the week before the hearing (2 November 2021) to confirm that he had already decided that there was ‘endemic racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club’ and that he couldn’t think of any reason why ‘the Board should remain in post’.
YCCC terminated the contracts of 16 of us, including myself, by e-mail. There were no disciplinary hearings, no verbal or documentary evidence was put before the individuals, there were no conversations with the individuals and the only communication received was an email
I offered to meet with the ECB and to travel anywhere in England where they wanted to meet. When I chased up a meeting date I was informed that the ECB had chosen not to interview me but they clearly spent considerable amounts of time interviewing Azeem.
There appears to be no corroborative evidence before the ECB from existing YCCC players or former players to back up Azeem’s perception of how he was treated during his two spells with the Club.
Joe Root has already stated he did not witness any racist conduct at YCCC.
Having reflected on the matters above I am today Informing the ECB that I will not be attending the disciplinary hearing as I have no faith in that process.
I believe that we are being put forward as scapegoats and I simply will not cooperate in that process.
Lord Patel saw fit to place Azeem on a pedestal and immediately lost face as Azeem’s anti-Semitic language came into the public domain.
My career in professional cricket was destroyed on the 3 December 2021.
I refuse to have my life defined by unsubstantiated allegations by an embittered former colleague and by a YCCC/ECB witchhunt.
Sixteen employees were sacked in early December 2021 as part of a rebuild at Headingley triggered by Rafiq’s accusations of institutional racism at the club.
But Gale, who has abandoned his 20-year career in cricket and has now set up a joinery business, insists that he has never been given a fair hearing at any stage in the long-running saga.
‘I deny each and every allegation that Azeem raised with YCCC and then via the ECB suggesting that I have used racist language and bullied Azeem,’ he said in a statement given to Sportsmail.
‘I was originally stunned but I am now angry that he has raised such allegations against me.’
Gale says he supported Rafiq and he even invited him to his family home for dinner on several occasions during their time together at Yorkshire, but admits they did differ over team selection decisions.
‘My differences of opinion with him only related to cricket matters and not race or religion,’ said Gale.
Rafiq had two spells as a player at Yorkshire, with his allegations coming two years after he left for the second time.
An investigation was conducted by the law firm Squire Patton Boggs and Gale says he cooperated fully and ‘presented evidence and performance data to the interviewer’.
A panel reviewed the evidence and seven of the 43 allegations were upheld, but none against Gale.
‘Everyone at the Club was stunned by his allegations,’ Gale says.
He was one of 14 members of staff who wrote to then chairman Roger Hutton, asking for clarity on how the investigation would proceed. They were among the 16 to have their contracts terminated.
‘The timing and manner in which my dismissal took place caused immense upset for my young family just before Christmas,’ adds Gale.
The ECB announced a further investigation in February. Gale says he sent the investigation team transcripts of his previous interviews, answered written questions and offered to meet ‘anywhere in England’, but the request for a face-to face interview was ignored, he claims.
‘I haven’t had a single phone call from the ECB,’ he says in his statement. ‘My request for details of the interviewing panel and what the exact nature of the investigation was not answered. Accordingly, I do not share the ECB’s view that it has conducted a ‘thorough and complex’ investigation.’
‘I am today Informing the ECB that I will not be attending the disciplinary hearing as I have no faith in that process.
‘I have cooperated with the previous investigations. In each case the only evidence relied on has been Azeem’s. On two occasions, I have been informed that no allegations were upheld against me, and I had no case to answer…
‘In short, I have no faith that a fair and just outcome will be the result if I engage in the process.
‘It would appear that the ECB needs to find somebody guilty of something in order to substantiate Yorkshire’s undoubted ‘guilty’ plea.
‘Lord Patel [the current Yorkshire chairman] has embraced the entirely false allegation that YCCC was an institutionally racist organisation.
And he adds: ‘I believe that we are being put forward as scapegoats and I simply will not cooperate in that process.’
Gale says that since the allegations became public, he has been unable to obtain a job within the sport he loves.
‘My career in professional cricket was destroyed on the 3 December 2021. My income was cut off and my temporary coaching role with Hobart Hurricanes was retracted.
Yorkshire chairman Lord Patel addressed the allegations of institutional racism in the club’s annual report two weeks ago
‘With a very heavy heart and despite the emotional effects on my wife and my young family, I have mentally moved on.
ECB CHARGES AND A TRIBUNAL PAYOUT
Former England captain Michael Vaughan and ex-head coach ndrew Gale are among several high-profile people charged by the ECB two weeks agao after the governing body’s investigation into alleged racism at Yorkshire.
Although they are not criminal charges, a group including Matthew Hoggard, Tim Bresnan, Gary Ballance, plus the club itself, will be subject to disciplinary hearings this autumn.
The charges are alleged breaches of ECB directive 3.3 of the sport’s code of conduct — relating to actions considered to be improper or which may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket or bring the ECB, cricket or any cricketer into disrepute — and their anti-discrimination code.
That will ensure Yorkshire’s racism saga, brought to light by former player Azeem Rafiq’s whistleblowing in August 2020, will extend beyond two years.
However, on June 7, Yorkshire Cricket staff including Gale won a case that they were wrongly sacked following the Rafiq racism scandal and are now in line to receive huge payouts.
Sixteen employees were sacked in early December last year as part of a rebuild at Headlingley triggered by Rafiq’s accusations of institutional racism at the club.
Gale, second XI coach Ian Dews, academy director Richard Damms, bowling coach Richard Pyrah and strength and conditioning coaches Ian Fisher and Peter Sim were among the 16 members let go.
Now the debt-ridden county faces paying out vast sums in compensation and legal fees.
Yorkshire published its 2021 accounts following an annual meeting at Headingley in May, which included £1.9million set aside as an ‘exceptional item’ covering ‘various costs associated with the racism allegations’.
‘I will always be unhappy with how my career ended but I refuse to have my life defined by unsubstantiated allegations by an embittered former colleague and by a YCCC/ECB witch hunt.
‘Similarly, I refuse to act or be perceived as a perpetual victim despite the fact my treatment from the club was abhorrent.’
Gale recounted the emotional impact the saga has had upon him and his family, claiming that leaks, which saw information consistently appear in the media before those accused of wrongdoing were informed, took a heavy toll.
He says his experience has led him to conclude it is best if he does not participate further in the ECB investigation.
‘Let’s be frank, the ECB by charging me without interview are clearly looking to do that whatever happens,’ Gale said.
‘YCCC will no doubt applaud that as it looks to avoid compensating the staff it unfairly dismissed. I also know that some people say I should fight the allegations and to not do so in some way gives the allegations added weight.
‘I don’t agree. In light of the outcome of the [original investigation in which allegations concerning Gale were not upheld] being ignored, the leaks to the media, the previous criticism of the ECB in the media, the ECB‘s need to be seen to be punishing someone, the undoubted guilty plea from the club and its attempt to throw the staff under the bus, together with the lack of any corroborative evidence, I am not willing to engage in a tainted process when the relationship between the club, certain members of the media and Azeem is as close as it is.’
The former cricketer said he has received personal abuse as a result of the allegations against him and he and his family have at times been forced to stay away from their home.
But he refuses to be bitter about his career at Yorkshire.
‘I am moving on with my life and I have my friends’ and my family’s full support in doing that,’ he added. ‘I enjoyed my career at YCCC and was proud to play for the County, captain the County, lift the County Championship trophy and coach the first team.
‘I would like to say thank you to the Yorkshire fans who supported me and the team during that time and I respect the opinion of others who believe I could have achieved more in terms of results. I can assure everyone that I always did my very best.’
Gale said he is now focused on the next employment tribunal hearing on October 31, 2022.
Gale says he appealed to ex-Yorkshire County Cricket Club chair Roger Hutton for information
‘[It] is a Court of Law and is a more senior jurisdiction to the ECB process,’ he said. ‘I will be bound by its findings.
‘I hope the club will cease its attempts to publicly blame and financially ruin the staff who worked so hard for the organisation. I hope the Club will apologise for its actions and provide each and every person who was dismissed or had their contract terminated with reasonable compensation and, as it did with Azeem, reimburse all legal costs incurred without requiring a gagging clause in any agreement.
‘I have invited the Club to adopt that approach on a number of occasions to date without success.’
Mail Online contacted the ECB for comment.
Andrew Gale (left) and Michael Vaughan played together for Yorkshire, opening the batting
Yorkshire Cricket was engulfed by the racism scandal resulting from allegations last year
ALLEGATIONS OF RACISM AT HEART OF ENGLISH CRICKET
Cricketer Azeem Rafiq fought back tears when he made bombshell allegations of institutional racism at the heart of the English game, in an appearance before MPs in November.
In a devastating 90-minute testimony to a Commons committee, Rafiq recalled his ‘inhuman’ treatment at Yorkshire County Cricket Club and accused senior players of racist bullying.
The 30-year-old former bowler said the word P*** was ‘used constantly’ in his time on the Yorkshire first team – and that racism continues to be rife in county teams across the country.
Rafiq fought back tears during his testimony
At one point the hearing had to be halted as Rafiq broke down in tears describing his treatment after he lost his unborn child, with a senior official ‘ripping the shreds’ off him instead of offering support.
The cricketer was giving evidence to MPs on the digital, culture, media and sport committee after an earlier report found he was a victim of ‘racial harassment and bullying’ but the club said they would not discipline anyone. The remarks were dismissed by other players as ‘banter’.
In a highly emotional account, Rafiq said he had lost his career to racism after making an official complaint about bullying, but hoped that by speaking out he could change the game.
Yorkshire subsequently settled Rafiq’s employment tribunal claim of racial harassment and bullying and paid him £200,000 plus legal costs
Michael Vaughan sensationally QUITS his BBC punditry role after he was charged by the ECB over Yorkshire racism scandal… as ex-England cricket captain reveals ‘concern for his family’s welfare’ and Beeb ‘respect and understand’ decision
- Michael Vaughan announced he took the decision for the wellbeing of his family
- The former England cricket captain was charged by the ECB over racism scandal
- In a statement, he confirmed that he would be stepping back ‘for the time being’
- The BBC insisted that the 47-year-old remains under contract with the company
Michael Vaughan has stepped down from his BBC punditry role almost two weeks after being charged by the ECB over the Yorkshire racism scandal.
In a statement, Vaughan said: ‘On numerous occasions, I have put on record my views on the issues concerning YCCC.
‘It is always regrettable when commentary on matters off the field take the focus away from what’s happening on the field.
‘In view of the ongoing dialogue on the subject, I have taken the decision to step back from my work with the BBC for the time being.
‘The key driver for this is my concern for the wellbeing of my family members and my wish to protect their family life. Stepping back temporarily is also in the interests of the game and I hope that it will minimise any difficulties for my work colleagues.’
The BBC have revealed that he remains contracted to the organisation, however.
Michael Vaughan has stepped down from his BBC punditry role after being charged by the ECB
‘Following conversations with Michael Vaughan we’ve accepted his decision to step away from our cricket coverage,’ the BBC said in a statement. ‘This is a decision we respect and understand. Michael remains under contract to the BBC.’
Sportsmail has previously revealed that Vaughan’s role was under review after the broadcaster’s diversity groups furiously branded the decision to stand by the 47-year-old as ‘totally inexcusable’ and ’embarrassing’.
Vaughan was dropped after the allegations emerged, although the BBC allowed him to contribute to Test Match Special during England’s last Test against New Zealand.
In a letter, BBC Sport’s BAME Group and the 5 Live Diversity Group said in a powerful letter that while Vaughan is innocent until proven guilty, it must be acknowledged ‘how damaging, embarrassing and unsettling’ the situation is to their colleagues.
The former England captain said he made the decision out of concern for his family’s wellbeing
The former cricketer was not part of the BBC’s coverage of the Ashes after Azeem Rafiq claimed that Vaughan told a group of non-white players in 2009 that there were ‘too many of you lot, we need to do something about it’.
Vaughan continues to strongly deny the allegation.
An hour before the Test began on Thursday, head of BBC Sport, Barbara Slater, told staff via an email that she would stand by him. It was also understood that the charge would not be discussed during the coverage.
The disciplinary hearings will take place in September.
Azeem Rafiq alleged Vaughan told a group of Muslim players there were ‘too many of you lot’
Vaughan is one of seven former Yorkshire crickets charged by the EBC after an inquiry into allegations of historic racism at Headingley.
Matthew Hoggard, Tim Bresnan and Gary Ballance, all former England players, are also part of the group, as is former Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale.
An independent inquiry conducted last year upheld seven of the 43 complaints made by Rafiq, although the club opted to take no action.
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