ECB chiefs dismiss Lord Patel claims over Yorkshire staff sackings

In Sport


ECB chiefs dismiss Lord Patel’s claims he sacked 16 members of Yorkshire staff on their instructions as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘utterly far-fetched’ after they formed a key part of Michael Vaughan disciplinary hearing

Lord Patel’s claims that he was acting on ECB instructions when sacking 16 members of staff at Yorkshire have been dismissed as ‘ridiculous,’ ‘utterly far-fetched,’ and ‘simply not true’ by multiple senior figures at the governing body. 

The Yorkshire chairman made the allegation in an interview with weekly newspaper Eastern Eye last month and the claims have featured prominently in the ECB’s disciplinary hearing against Michael Vaughan, which concluded on Tuesday.

The ECB’s head of legal and integrity Meena Botros declined to corroborate Patel’s statement under cross-examination from Vaughan’s lawyer, Christopher Stoner KC, at the hearing last Friday, but three senior ECB figures have since contacted Sportsmail asserting that the Labour life peer is not telling the truth. 

The veracity of Patel’s claims is significant as the ECB’s case against Vaughan and six former Yorkshire team-mates accused of using racist language towards Azeem Rafiq relies heavily on the club’s acceptance that there was a ‘prevailing atmosphere’ of racism at Headingley, an admission which resulted from Patel’s decision to plead guilty to four charges of misconduct.

Yorkshire’s approach to Rafiq’s allegations that he was driven out of the club by racist bullying changed abruptly following Patel’s appointment as chairman on 5 November 2021. 

Senior ECB figures have dismissed a suggestion by Lord Patel (pictured) that he was acting on their instructions when he sacked 16 members of staff at Yorkshire in December 2021

Senior ECB figures have dismissed a suggestion by Lord Patel (pictured) that he was acting on their instructions when he sacked 16 members of staff at Yorkshire in December 2021

The veracity of Patel's claims impacts upon the Michael Vaughan disciplinary hearing

The veracity of Patel’s claims impacts upon the Michael Vaughan disciplinary hearing

The club had been preparing to contest Rafiq’s claims at an employment tribunal, but Patel awarded him compensation of £200,000 on his third day in the job without having read an independent report from legal firm Squire Patton Boggs into the affair.

Patel then sacked 16 members of staff by email on December 3, 2021, including the entire coaching team, a decision which has cost Yorkshire £1.47million in compensation payments, with a further claim for £566,000 from the club’s medical team due to be settled in the High Court. 

The claim that he was acting on instructions from Lord’s has caused considerable frustration at the ECB, who were not made aware that the mass sackings were imminent until the evening of December 2.

Whilst reluctant to engage in a war of words with Patel senior ECB figures have come forward to rebut his claims, having waited until after this week’s disciplinary hearing has concluded to avoid overshadowing the proceedings.

‘There’s not a shred of truth in these claims,’ a senior ECB source told Sportsmail

‘There’s not a shred of evidence to support his statement and it’s simply not true. We didn’t know anything about the sackings until they happened, at which point we were assured he had irrefutable evidence of gross misconduct. 

‘I think he realises he shouldn’t have done it so is looking to spread the blame.’

Another source pointed out that as a governing body the ECB would not get involved in staffing issues at one of the counties, particularly at a time when they were already political pressure over the tension between its functions as regulator, promoter and major funder of the game.

Yorkshire paid out £1.47million in compensation payments to the sacked employees

Yorkshire paid out £1.47million in compensation payments to the sacked employees 

Yorkshire changed their approach to Azeem Rafiq's (pictured) racism allegations abruptly when Lord Patel took over as chairman in November 2021

Yorkshire changed their approach to Azeem Rafiq’s (pictured) racism allegations abruptly when Lord Patel took over as chairman in November 2021 

‘It’s utterly far-fetched and utterly ridiculous,’ the source said. ‘As a governing body we would never act in that way.’

A third source added: ‘It’s not true, but we’re not going to get into an argument with Lord Patel.’

One of Yorkshire’s four guilty pleas sanctioned by Patel relating to the destruction of evidence in the Rafiq case has also been questioned by numerous former and current members of staff, who told Sportsmail earlier this week that electronic and paper documents were still locked away at Headingley in March 2022.

In a statement issued last month Yorkshire said that ‘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 changed their story this week by releasing a new statement claiming that the discover of missing evidence took place ‘subsequent to the appointment of Lord Patel.’

An ECB spokesperson declined to comment. Lord Patel was unavailable for comment.



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