Eastern Eye (UK)

‘I faced vile racism every day’



were not prepared to listen to anything else except these people.”

He described the extent of the “extremely vile” racism he faced.

“We had a small group of people who worked with them, blatantly racist and just sent me racist letters, on social media, and they attacked me every single day. All they were doing was trying to undermine me with procedural roadblocks.

“Of course, they were giving a voice to other people.”

“If I was a white chairman, none of that would have happened.”

On the day he was appointed to the Yorkshire role, Patel told a news conference what he had already put in place. His actions included:

l settling the employment tribunal with Rafiq, without a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), as the club previously requested

l setting up an independen­t whistleblo­wing hotline for other victims of discrimina­tion to come forward

l commission­ing a review of practices and procedures on diversity and inclusion at the club; and

l sharing the full report into Rafiq’s allegation­s with parties who had a “legal interest” in the matter, including the player’s lawyers, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and MPs.

In December 2021, weeks after Patel’s tenure began, 16 people left Yorkshire. They included the director of cricket, Martyn Moxon; head coach Andrew Gale; and all members of the coaching staff.

That, Patel said, triggered a vicious attack on him.

“I’ve faced extremely vile racism in the past, but it was the manner, the relentless nature, ie, daily.

“People giving their addresses and names, calling me all the names under the sun without ever having met me or having any understand­ing of what was going on, egged on by this small group of people.

“I must put on record, this is not just a Yorkshire problem. It is a cricketwid­e problem. And I hope we’ll see that when the independen­t equity commission on cricket reports.

“We had absolutely several decades of people who came and complained to me.

“So, this wasn’t just about Azeem Rafiq.

“Hundreds of people told me, ‘this has been going on, this happened to my child or this happened to me when I was a child at Yorkshire’.

“So, this is not just that everything spotlights on Azeem – he was the only one brave enough to step up and carry on the battle.

“Others just give up, and I think – had I not been in the position I was – I would have given up too, because it was just relentless, and you are fighting the system.

“But this is across the game of cricket, and this is a big issue.

“You’ve had absolute proof that discrimina­tion is taking place, potentiall­y unlawful discrimina­tion.

“These people still believe nothing was wrong.”

Things got especially bad during the annual general meeting in 2022, when a small group waged a social

the ECB urged him to get rid of people. Patel does not badmouth people or organisati­ons. But he revealed to Eastern Eye that when the going got tough, the ECB did not back him.

“Being a member of the ECB for five and-a-half years, I understood their role, and what they needed to do, and where the boundaries would cross.

“But this was a unique situation where I was tasked by them to help and turn this disaster around.

“I was asked to meet a set of criteria most people would have winced at or thought, ‘there’s no way we can deliver this’, and I delivered it.

“I was asked to create a framework and an environmen­t where we would prove to the world that we want a non-racist institutio­n, and I did all that.

“I was asked to ensure some people from the previous regime did not take part in that governance process.

“So, when I’m attacked for things I was asked to do, I’ve been attacked from all quarters, the ECB could have supported me.

“Yet, when I sent letter after letter to them, to say ‘you asked me to do this, I’ve done it, and now I need your support to back me up on it’ – that wasn’t forthcomin­g.”

The peer had a word of caution for his successors.

“Whether that’s me or somebody else, if that happens in the future, they’re not going to encourage anybody else to go on this journey.

“If you’re asking people to put their necks on the line, to achieve radical change and then you don’t support that change, why would anybody do it?”

Rafiq, whose testimony in September 2020 of racism and bullying in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee sparked widespread criticism

of bias in the sport, said, “I look at the way Lord Patel’s been treated by the game, not just the old guard at Yorkshire, but by the game. And that just shows to me is that, actually, everything’s lip service.

“I didn’t know Lord Patel before his coming in. But what an honourable man – he’s done some of the biggest real-life things, in his career and in the House of Lords for 20 years, and he got treated that way, and by the game,

"Let’s not mask this as a Yorkshire only problem and the Yorkshire old guard.”

Eastern Eye approached the ECB for comment, but it did not respond.

However, the Yorkshire cricket saga has taken its toll on the peer.

Patel revealed that this year he will step down from various roles, including Social Work England and chair of the Independen­t Health Providers Network (IHPN).

It is time, he said, to take a break and spend time with his family.

Patel also talked about “elephants in the room” when he was helping his favourite county and favourite cricket club.

And one elephant, he told Eastern Eye, was the fact that some white people still have a problem taking instructio­ns from brown people.

“Yeah, I am brown, and I’m Indian, but I’m a Yorkshirem­an through and through.

“I love Yorkshire, and that’s why I went to do the job I did.”

 ?? ?? media and press campaign to stop Patel becoming the club’s chair.
The peer said the ECB asked him to deliver the impossible. Eastern Eye can disclose that
media and press campaign to stop Patel becoming the club’s chair. The peer said the ECB asked him to deliver the impossible. Eastern Eye can disclose that
 ?? ?? MAKING CHANGES: Lord Kamlesh Patel; and (inset below left) Azeem Rafiq
MAKING CHANGES: Lord Kamlesh Patel; and (inset below left) Azeem Rafiq

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom