The Yorkshire County Cricket Club has confirmed that documents related to allegations of racism and its responses to those charges had been “irretrievably deleted”, which could be prejudicial to the interest of the game in the country.
Pakistan-born cricketer Azeem Rafiq, who played for Yorkshire for more than 10 years, had claimed that racism at the club had left him on the brink of suicide. He later deposed before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) in the UK, detailing his ordeal when he was at the club and how institutional racism was rampant there.
Yorkshire removed a majority of its coaching and management staff in the aftermath of the allegations and Lord Kamlesh Patel took over as chairman of the country side and brought about a number of significant changes to counter racism.
“It has been reported in a number of news outlets that, in relation to the Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) inquiry, the Club has admitted a charge of deletion of data and documents,” read a statement issued by Yorkshire on Thursday following an uproar in the media over the deleted files.
“After 5 November 2021, it was discovered that emails and documents, both held electronically by the club and in paper copy, had been irretrievably deleted from both servers and laptops and otherwise destroyed.
“The CDC proceedings are ongoing and, as such, we are limited as to what we can say at this time. After a thorough independent investigation it was established that the deletion and destruction of documents date from a time period prior to the appointment of Lord Patel and relate to the allegations of racism and the club’s response to those allegations.” Yorkshire added that it was not certain why and how the deletion happened and who was responsible for the act.
“The Club is not prepared to conjecture publicly as to why this occurred, who was responsible or the motivation for doing so. The ICO was of course informed of the position at the time of discovery, and no further action was taken.” The statement said the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had been apprised of the destruction of data, which had said it could be prejudicial to the interests of the game.
“The ECB was also informed of the position, which led to a charge being brought on the basis that the conduct (deletion/destruction) may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket and/or which may bring the ECB and/or the game of cricket into disrepute. The Club has admitted this charge, as there was no viable defence in these circumstances.”