Yorkshire chairman Colin Graves told a select committee he had not phoned Azeem Rafiq to apologise for the racism he suffered at the club because he had “plenty of things going on”.

The 76-year-old apologised last month to “anyone who had experienced any form of racism at Yorkshire” during his first spell at the club from 2002 to 2015, at a time when his loan offer to rescue the club and return as chairman was recommended to members by the Yorkshire board.

Graves, whose return as chairman was officially ratified on February 9, was asked by Culture, Media and Sport committee member John Nicolson on Tuesday why he had not phoned former Yorkshire player Rafiq to personally apologise.

Rafiq spoke out in the summer of 2020 about the discrimination he suffered across two spells at Yorkshire, and his harrowing testimony to the same select committee in 2021 led to a major overhaul in the county’s leadership and to commitments from the England and Wales Cricket Board to improve diversity across the sport.

Graves did issue an apology to Rafiq during the session, but when asked by Nicolson why he had not called Rafiq, Graves said: “I didn’t feel that was appropriate at the time. I’ve apologised today to Mr Rafiq and anybody else who experienced any discrimination or racism.”

Pressed by Nicolson on why he had not felt it was appropriate, Graves said: “I just have plenty of things going on around not to pick up the phone to Mr Rafiq.”

Nicolson asked whether that meant he was “too busy” to call, to which Graves replied: “No, I did not say I was too busy.”

DCMS Committee
Yorkshire chairman Colin Graves (House of Commons/PA)

Rafiq declined to respond to what Graves had told the committee when contacted by the PA news agency, but said last month he did not accept Graves’ general apology.

Graves would not rule out the possibility of any members of staff returning who had been at the club during the period where Rafiq faced discrimination.

“It has not been discussed by the board,” Graves said.

“We’ve got our first board meeting on Monday. I’m sure regarding the future, the structure, everything will be discussed, but at this point in time it has not been discussed.”

Brian Close funeral
Colin Graves appeared before the Culture, Media and Sport committee on Tuesday (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

Graves was also asked by Nicolson about a letter which had been sent to the publishers of Rafiq’s forthcoming book.

Graves said the letter was not on his behalf, but on behalf of the club. He said the letter was a simple request to be sent a copy of the book and was “soft” in tone.

“If the letter was as anodyne as you say, will you publish the letter?” Nicolson asked.

“Yeah, no problem,” Graves replied.