Essex wanted to keep anonymity throughout independent review into racist abuse

By Sports Desk February 28, 2024

Essex chair Anu Mohindru insists maintaining anonymity was behind the decision not to name individuals sanctioned over an independent review which found players at the club had been subjected to racist abuse.

A report by Katharine Newton KC published last December found reference to players’ ethnic, racial and religious origins was “entirely normalised and tolerated behaviour” within the dressing-room culture between the mid-1990s until around 2013, under the misguided belief that it was acceptable ‘banter’.

Newton was commissioned to carry out the report in 2021 after allegations of discrimination were made by former Essex players Jahid Ahmed, Maurice Chambers and Zoheb Sharif.

The club revealed on Wednesday that sanctions have now been issued, but have not confirmed who has been sanctioned, how many individuals are involved and what the nature of those sanctions are.

Mohindru told the PA news agency: “I am not going to give a number because it’s about jigsaw identification.

“Everyone who has been implicated and had an adverse finding in the report has been sanctioned in some way.

“When the report came out we gave it to the independent panel, who then had nothing off the table for them at that stage. They could decide what was appropriate from bans, to losing membership to bans from the ground.

“That was then sent back to the board and everybody had an opportunity to make representation with regards to mitigating circumstances or anything we thought the board should take into consideration.

“The board then took the starting point that the panel had thought or the range, took mitigation into place and then we imposed the sanction.

“Each person has been told individually. We haven’t told anybody what anybody else has got and so forth like that. And that’s keeping in line with the anonymity we wanted to keep throughout this.

“It is not a matter of us trying to shut shop, but with regards to the Katharine report, we were very clear in our mind we needed to follow the anonymity that stemmed from the start.”

Mohindru refused to reveal if any of the individuals sanctioned were still working for Essex, but said the England and Wales Cricket Board had been told about all those sanctioned and what those sanctions were.

“I can’t tell you that because again, I can’t confirm or deny that. All I can say is anybody that has been in the report has been sanctioned and there has been an array of sanctions that have been put forward,” Mohindru said when questioned if any of the sanctioned individuals were still at Essex.

“I absolutely understand (criticism) but I need to also keep an eye on people’s welfare and the process we’ve followed from the start. We had to follow legal advice, which we have done all the way through and I think we were in a catch 22.

“If we had revealed it, I am sure we would have been criticised for that and by not revealing it, we’ll be criticised for that, but what I can say is it has been a very strong process.

“The independent panel are an experienced panel that are used to dealing with regulatory as well as sanctions so they would know what would be appropriate. It is my day job as well so I know how to deal with it.

“It is a matter of this board had nothing to do with anything that happened before and it is an independent board that was pretty much elected after all of this started, so we’ve tried to be as fair as possible all across the board in every way. That’s been robust sanctions as well as being fair to the individuals.”

Newton said in her report conclusions that those on the receiving end of discriminatory treatment “were too scared to speak up for fear of damaging their prospects of selection and progression”.

“In any event, there were no effective mechanisms for raising such concerns,” she added.

Her report also found a lack of understanding of the needs of Muslim players at Essex.

Newton also found that the club’s former chairman, John Faragher, used racist language during a board meeting in 2017 and that the club failed to properly investigate a complaint about the language used.

Newton said in the summary report that she had upheld “a number” of complaints of racially discriminatory conduct, and that the perpetrators were named in the full report she sent to Essex.

Newton said one of the players was given the nickname ‘bomber’ following the September 11 terrorist attacks. She also found that the phrase ‘curry muncher’ was “commonly used” in the dressing room to describe individuals of South Asian heritage.

Ahmed, who has been contacted for comment, has previously told PA the term “curry muncher” was directed towards him during his time at the club.

The ECB has not commented on the sanctions. The Cricket Regulator is continuing its own investigation into what happened at Essex, but Mohindru is unsure when it will conclude.

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