Essex report upholds claims that ex-players suffered racist abuse

A series of historic allegations of racist abuse at Essex County Cricket Club have been upheld by an independent report, including that one player was found to have been nicknamed “Bomber” due to his South Asian heritage, and another taunted with bananas for being Black.

The allegations formed part of an independent investigation led by Katharine Newton KC, which was commissioned in November 2021 in the wake of the resignation of the then-chairman John Faragher, who had been accused of using the racist phrase “n****r in the woodpile” during a board meeting. This charge was also upheld by the report.

The findings have been detailed in a 38-page report, released by Essex on Friday, which upholds the complaints of three former players as well as those made against Faragher, and lists 15 recommendations for the club to identify and, where necessary, rectify its past actions.

Although no players were named in the report, the allegations referenced within it were made by Jahid Ahmed, Maurice Chambers and Zoheb Sharif, all of whom have since left the club.

Jahid, who was the first British-born cricketer of Bangladeshi heritage to play county cricket, and Zoheb were both found to have been taunted with the slur “curry-muncher”. Both men also suffered religious discrimination due to their Muslim faith, including during a mandatory team get-together in a local pub during the holy month of Ramadan. One of the players was explicitly asked “would you bomb us?”, in the wake of the discovery of two car-bombs in Central London.

Meanwhile the report found that Chambers, a Jamaica-born fast bowler who grew up in East London, was targeted by an unnamed player who, as a trialist at the club, repeatedly offered him bananas in a manner which was “unequivocally racist”, including one occasion on which he threw a banana down the stairs at their shared accommodation and told him to “go fetch it you f***ing monkey”.

Anu Mohindru KC, the club chair, said: “Essex County Cricket Club welcomes the publishing of the independent report and it is an important step in trying to rectify the past mistakes, but most importantly creating a brighter future for everyone associated with our Club.

“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. This extends to the fantastic community work being carried out across the region and we understand our responsibility to our local communities as the county club who represents them.

“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. Following recommendations from the independent committee, the Club is now dealing with the process concerning any individuals where sanctions may be imposed. The Club will handle these promptly but with fairness to the individuals involved.

“I wish to thank every individual who was part of the investigation and commend those who spoke out against discrimination. We would also like to thank Katharine Newton KC who has worked meticulously throughout the process.”

More to follow…

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