Hoggard and Bresnan pull out because ECB racism process ‘has failed everyone’

Former England internationals Tim Bresnan and Matthew Hoggard have criticized the disciplinary process linked to the Azeem Rafiq racism investigation after withdrawing their cooperation.

The case will be heard in public by a panel of the Cricket Disciplinary Commission early next month.

Both Bresnan and Hoggard face charges from the England and Wales Cricket Board, but became the latest witnesses to withdraw on Friday.

Former Yorkshire all-rounder Bresnan told The Times: “I am willing to publish everything because I am out of the process. But they just charged me. How is that possible without even talking to me?

“It’s like being accused and tried without even being arrested. This is how it feels.

“He (Rafiq) says that I used that language (the P word), along with others, but he didn’t give any examples. There are no witnesses. I vehemently deny it. I grew up in a place where that’s not okay.

“Two and a half years of non-stop articles, leaks, tweets, different things that come out without the right to reply. He could not guarantee witnesses that statements they wanted to make in private would not appear in the public domain.

“We have been ordered to keep quiet until now because it could have affected the case. It just hasn’t felt right, the whole thing.”

Hoggard agreed with Bresnan’s sentiments, insisting that the investigation had failed all of them.

“The process has failed everyone. All parties involved have a problem with the way this process has been handled,” he told BBC Sport.

“Azeem has a problem with that, all the respondents have, (former Yorkshire chairman) Lord Patel has, Yorkshire has. There has to be a better way.

“I am withdrawing because I do not think it is a fair process.

“There are no winners in this. It is not an admission of guilt. People who know the truth know the truth. That’s all that matters to me.”

Andrew Gale, another of the defendants, announced last year that he was unwilling to participate in the process, which he described as “tainted”.

The ECB announced last June that it had charged several people with misconduct and alleged breaches of its anti-discrimination code.

Yorkshire was also charged for its handling of the allegations.

In response to the latest withdrawal, the ECB said: “People have the right to opt out of hearings if they wish, but cases will still be heard in their absence and we are satisfied that the disciplinary process in this matter has been both rigorous and fair.

“The ECB investigation and disciplinary process have been overseen by an independent committee and a leading specialist from King’s Counsel (KC).

“As with any case before the Cricket Disciplinary Commission, defendants are entitled to a fair hearing by an experienced and independent CDC Panel where they can call witnesses, and can also challenge the evidence. in support of the charge, including through cross-examination of ECB witnesses.

Azeem Rafiq initially denounced the discrimination he faced in Yorkshire when he appeared before the DCMS select committee in November 2021 (Mike Egerton/PA)

It is entirely up to the defendants if they decide not to take advantage of this opportunity.

“At the end of the hearing, it is up to the CDC’s independent panel, not the ECB, to determine guilt or not and any sanctions.”

Rafiq said: “For the last two years I have been vindicated time and time again.

“This has included a legal investigation which confirmed that I was the victim of racial harassment and intimidation; a panel commissioned by Yorkshire which concluded that I suffered discrimination; numerous apologies, both public and private, from people who witnessed or were involved in this behavior; and others have come forward to confirm the culture in the broader game.

“I was grateful to Matthew Hoggard for calling me to apologize shortly after I went public in 2020. However, it is unfortunate that these defendants are unwilling to go to a public hearing and face what happened.”

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