The report upheld several of the allegations, which included that one player was given the nickname ‘bomber’ after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, because the player was Muslim. Another complaint, in which a different player alleged he was taunted by being offered bananas “in a manner that was unequivocally racist” was also upheld.
The report is the conclusion of an independent investigation led by Katharine Newton KC, which was sparked in November 2021 after then-chairman, John Faragher, resigned. Faragher was accused of using a racist phrase during a board meeting in 2017 – a charge which was also upheld by the report. Essex were fined £50,000 by the ECB in 2022 after an investigation into the incident by the Cricket Discipline Commission.
No player was named in the 38-page report, but the allegations it referenced were publicly made by Jahid Ahmed, Maurice Chambers and Zoheb Shari – all of whom are former Essex players. Several of the claims they each made were upheld, as well as those against Faragher.
The report also detailed that there were at least two missed opportunities when the original comment was made in 2017 to instigate an investigation at the time. These were the 11-month period before the issue was addressed, and the failure of a January 2018 meeting to convene an investigation.
An allegation was also upheld against Faragher that he “acted in a bullying, condescending, threatening and intimidatory manner during a phone call with an individual who was standing for election to the General Committee.” The allegation that Faragher acted in a way to dissuade the person from standing for the committee was upheld, although the incident was not found to be racially motivated.
The report concluded: “Several players were subject to racist abuse and racially discriminatory treatment during their time at the Club. These allegations from ex-players concerned the period from the mid-1990s to circa 2013. The victims were Black players and players of South Asian heritage.
“The culture of the Club’s dressing room was such that it was entirely normalised and tolerated behaviour to refer to players’ ethnic, racial and religious origins under the misguided belief that it was acceptable ‘banter’ despite the fact that those references were racist and discriminatory. Those at the receiving end of this treatment were too scared to speak up for fear of damaging their prospects of selection and progression.”
The report sets out 15 recommendations for the Club to follow to improve responses to and to prevent allegations of discriminatory behaviour.
Among the recommendations was to set-up an anonymous reporting facility for individuals to raise concerns of discriminatory behaviour. Another recommendations was that the club must implement objective and fair recruitment processes to ensure decisions on the awarding of, extension and termination of professional contracts are free from bias or discrimination.
A Culture Capture Report filed in June 2022 stated in relation to the recruitment process at Essex: “There is currently a strong sense of subjectivity in the recruitment process, which can lead to bias and stereotyping.”
In response to the publication of the report, Essex released a statement which said: “The Club is fully aware that publishing the report is the next step in upholding those values and implementation of the 15 recommendations set out in Ms Newton’s report has already begun. Essex acknowledges her findings and are committed to addressing past incidents of discrimination against former employees. All victims involved throughout the investigation have received an apology from the Club.
“Their courageous actions to report incidents of discrimination during their time at Essex has been pivotal in getting to this stage. The Club remains dedicated to taking the necessary action to make meaningful changes and prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.”
Club Chair, Anu Mohindru KC, who was appointed to the position in October of this year said in a statement: “It is evident from Ms Newton’s findings that there have been some fundamental errors in the past, which don’t reflect the Essex of today. Significant progress has been made across the Club to build a workplace that values and respects every individual, regardless of their background, identity, and beliefs.
“I have personally met with the victims to apologise on behalf of the Club and explain the work carried out by the Board in producing the report.”
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