ECB spent 60,000 pounds on mock interrogation sessions focused on Rafiq's racism allegations

by IANS |

London, Sep 17 (IANS) The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) reportedly splurged 60,000 pounds on mock interrogation sessions focused on cricketer Azeem Rafiq's racism allegations ahead of the questioning by UK's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Rafiq, who played for Yorkshire between 2008 and 2018, claimed that the racial abuse he suffered left him close to committing suicide and that his reports of abuse were "ignored" by the club at the time.

In the aftermath of Rafiq's allegations, the Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) removed the entire coaching staff, including Director of Cricket Martyn Moxon and First XI coach Andrew Gale.

A report in Daily Mail on Saturday said, "The ECB 'wasted' 60,000 pounds on mock interrogation session focused on Azeem Rafiq's racism allegations ahead of questioning by the DCMS, despite the organisation sanctioning job cuts."

The report added that ECB board members, including former chief Tom Harrison, 'rehearsed questions' and that the ECB staff practiced answers surrounding Rafiq's allegations of racism, even as the country's cricket governing body cut 62 jobs due to Covid-19.

The reported mock interrogation sessions came less than two months after ECB announced the job cuts to 'safeguard' its long-term future following the pandemic.

"The ECB board's payment to a law firm is said to have been for conducting a mock hearing, in which then-chief executive Tom Harrison and colleagues practiced facing questions expected to mirror those of DCMS chief Julian Knight MP," said the report.

"It did not go to plan. Harrison had intended to make a pre-rehearsed speech at the hearing, in the hope of avoiding questioning -- a tactic thought to have been planned in the sessions - but Knight blocked him from doing so," the report added.

"It's incredible such money should be spent in such preparation. Frankly, it didn't do them much good - they should ask for a refund," Knight was quoted as saying in the news report.

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