Colin Graves rebuked for failure to apologise to Azeem Rafiq for Yorkshire racism

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee question the returning Yorkshire chair and take issue with Graves' delay in contacting Rafiq since details of his experiences at the club came fully to light


Colin Graves has come under fire from MPs for failing to apologise personally to Azeem Rafiq amid the emergence of the racism and discrimination he suffered at Yorkshire.

Graves, appearing before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in a session examining the progress made tackling discrimination in cricket, has returned to the Headingley club as chair after having had a loan offer for the county approved earlier this month.

As previously revealed to The Cricketer magazine for an interview in the March 2024 issue, the 76-year-old has not contacted Rafiq - though he did use the appearance to apologise to those affected by the scandal - whose first stint at Yorkshire (2008-2014) overlapped with Graves' initial spell as chair between 2012 and 2015.

Asked by John Nicolson MP of the Scottish National Party why he'd not engaged with Rafiq, Graves explained he had "plenty of things going on".

He added: "From my point of view I didn't feel that was appropriate at the time. I've apologised today to Mr Raifq and anybody else who experienced any racism or discrimination."


Azeem Rafiq's testimony in November 2021 blew the whistle on the racism scandal at Yorkshire (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The exchange continued:

JN: "Why wasn't it appropriate to phone him?

CG: "I have plenty of things going on around not to pick up the phone to Mr Rafiq."

JN: "You were too busy to phone him?"

CG: "I didn't say I was too busy."

JN: "You had plenty of things going on and you couldn't phone him?"

CG: "Fine. If that is how you see it - I don't see it like that."

Graves, who joined the advisory board of Oakwell Sports after five years leading the ECB, added: "I've been out of cricket since September 2020. I haven't been involved with running any form of cricket until I got back in with cricket 11 days ago."

Nicolson, the MP for Ochil and South Perthshire who has been part of the CMS Committee since March 2020, went on: "You didn't have to be actively involved in cricket to phone him and apologise for what had happened under your tenure."


Graves is back at the helm at Headingley (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

He continued: "It's really not fine - it's appalling. If I was in your position, anyone in your position would have picked up the phone and I don't understand why you've not phoned him if you're sincere in your apology."

Among the panel was Alex Sobel, the Labour MP for Leeds North West which covers Headingley, and Clive Efford MP who pressed Graves on whether employees sacked amid the racism scandal - 16 were removed, six of which, including former captain and head coach Andrew Gale, won cases for unfair dismissal - would return to the club.

"It has not been discussed by the board," Graves insisted under questioning from Sobel. 

"We've got our first board meeting on Monday (February 26) and I am sure regarding the future, the structure, everything will be discussed. But at this point in time it has not been discussed."

He added after a follow-up enquiry from Efford: "I haven't contemplated it because we haven't even got to that position again. We concentrating on the financial position of the club to ensure we are sustainable again. 

"In terms of employment etc we haven't even discussed it yet.

"All we will do as a board is look at positions as and when they become available and that is all we can do and will do. It hasn't even been discussed or thought about."

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