EXCLUSIVE: Yorkshire accused of ‘lying’ over lost files after being charged over destruction of evidence in the Azeem Rafiq case
- Yorkshire plead guilty to destroying evidence related to racism claims
- Yorkshire won’t take part in trial after admitting liability on all four charges
- Michael Vaughan is the sole defendant after five former team-mates pulled out
- Sportsmail learned one guilty plea relates to admission of destroying evidence
Yorkshire are accused of lying in response to one of the ECB’s racism charges in an explosive dossier of new evidence obtained by Sportsmail.
The accusations from several former employees, which are supported by an email from Yorkshire’s own solicitors, will be a source of major embarrassment to the ECB and could have significant implications for their disciplinary case against Michael Vaughan, which resumes on Monday.
Sportsmail revealed on February 23 that one of the four charges Yorkshire have admitted relates to the destruction of evidence in the Azeem Rafiq case, which led to the club confirming the story but claiming that ‘the deletion and destruction of documents’ pre-dated Lord Patel’s arrival at Headingley.
Patel was appointed Yorkshire chairman on November 5, 2021, but Sportsmail has obtained a damning dossier which strongly indicates the missing evidence was still in the club’s possession months later. It is understood to comprise of electronic files held on a personal laptop as well as three shelves and two boxes of paper documents.
Yorkshire have pleaded guilty to an ECB charge of destroying crucial documents relating to the Azeem Rafiq racism case
Sportsmail has been told by multiple sources that the club still had all evidence relating to the Rafiq case in March 2022. We have also been told that permanently deleting the electronic files would have been impossible in any case. Our dossier includes:
- Testimony from two former Yorkshire staff members, who claim that in March 2022 the hard copies were stored in a locked cabinet outside the office of acting chief executive Paul Hudson.
- An email sent by Yorkshire’s solicitors, Howard Kennedy, dated February 10, 2022, stating that the club were content they had the documents in question.
- A letter sent to the ECB last week from another former Yorkshire staff member querying whether the electronic files could have been permanently destroyed due to the club’s contract with MTech, who were responsible for backing up all data every night.
- Details of a £75,000 upgrade to Yorkshire’s internet servers which took place in 2021 to ensure that no data could be lost.
In their response to our original story, Yorkshire claimed a ‘thorough independent investigation established that the deletion and destruction of documents date from a time period prior to the appointment of Lord Patel’, but appeared to have changed their position in a fresh statement last night. While repeating the claim the documents had been destroyed, the second statement did not specify when.
Yorkshire claimed the destruction of documents were prior to the appointment of Lord Patel’
‘Subsequent to the appointment of Lord Patel on November 5, 2021, it is understood that certain documents and emails created prior to his appointment — and relating to the allegations of racism and the club’s response to those allegations — were unable to be located,’ it read. ‘We engaged independent specialists to investigate and we are informed that their conclusion was that emails and documents, held electronically by the club and in paper copy, had been irretrievably deleted from both servers and laptops and otherwise destroyed.’
The new revelations will cause further embarrassment for the ECB, who have relied heavily on Yorkshire’s four guilty pleas in pursuing disciplinary action against seven former players, including Vaughan.
The ECB’s lawyer, Jane Mulcahy KC, repeatedly cited Yorkshire’s admissions as evidence of a ‘prevailing atmosphere’ of racism at the club during last week’s proceedings, but the credibility of at least one of those pleas is now being openly questioned.
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