Daily Mail

Female Yorkshire staff were ‘uneasy’ at Rafiq Test invite


Yorkshire ignored warnings from staff that female colleagues felt uncomforta­ble about Azeem rafiq being invited to the headingley Test as guest of honour last summer due to allegation­s of sexual harassment made against him during his time playing at the club.

After a series of allegation­s which will raise questions about chairman Lord Patel’s stewardshi­p of Yorkshire, Sportsmail has learned that:

■ several staff complained to Patel and the club’s chief operating officer Andy Dawson on numerous occasions in the week before rafiq was due to attend the third day of england’s third Test against New Zealand on June 25, reporting concerns aired by female colleagues, but no action was taken.

■ Two female employees changed their work patterns on the saturday of the Test to avoid contact with rafiq, and a third member of staff asked for the day off, although ended up working.

■ Many Yorkshire staff quietly left the pavilion by a side exit following rafiq’s arrival to avoid being accused of snubbing him, because they were unhappy his racism allegation­s had led to 16 of their colleagues being sacked last

December. These latest allegation­s follow the disclosure on Monday that rafiq is accused in legal documents lodged at the high Court of the sexual harassment of women on two separate occasions while playing for Yorkshire.

The former off-spinner is accused of exposing himself to Yorkshire’s massage therapist in the dressing room on a trip to south Africa in october 2012, and a hotel cleaner in Northampto­n three months earlier, in documents that form part of former Yorkshire physio Wayne Morton’s compensati­on claim against the club.

A spokespers­on for rafiq (right) described the allegation­s as a ‘twisted campaign of lies’, but former Yorkshire and eCB chairman Colin Graves told Sportsmail yesterday that the south Africa incident was investigat­ed by the club’s cricket department and resulted in rafiq receiving a verbal warning. ‘it did happen and it was investigat­ed,’ said Graves. ‘it wasn’t taken any further as it was a case of he said-she said, but it was investigat­ed thoroughly.’

Yorkshire accuse Morton — who is seeking compensati­on from the club over his company’s contract being terminated — of covering up the alleged indecent exposure in a document signed by Patel, who was told about the alleged incident last November. Morton denies orchestrat­ing a cover-up. Yorkshire staff are understood to have first raised concerns about rafiq’s return to Patel in the week before he was due at headingley, with the issue also flagged to Dawson, who runs the club on a day-to-day basis. Patel and Dawson said they would think about the matter over the weekend and it was raised again on the Monday, but there was never any indication that rafiq’s invitation would be reconsider­ed or attempts made to reassure staff.

‘All the staff were talking about it,’ a source told Sportsmail. ‘it was flagged to the management at least six times. They absolutely knew, but it came across like they didn’t care. it was all about the Pr they’d get from Azeem coming back. ‘They gave the impression they didn’t care about the staff.’

There was a sense of unease among Yorkshire staff at rafiq being made the guest of honour, given his alleged behaviour while he was a player, and the impact of his allegation­s on the club. Yorkshire lost most of their sponsors and the right to stage internatio­nal matches following rafiq’s appearance before a parliament­ary committee last November. The club’s coaching and medical teams were sacked the next month. Yorkshire declined to comment.

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