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    John Blain Demands Reevaluation After Independent Inquiry Clears Racism Allegations
John Blain Demands Reevaluation After Independent Inquiry Clears Racism Allegations
John Blain. Source: skysports.com

John Blain Demands Reevaluation After Independent Inquiry Clears Racism Allegations

Cricket Scotland has announced that an independent inquiry concluded that allegations against former player John Blain were "unfounded." Blain, who is now urging the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to re-evaluate a different case where he was penalised for using racist language, claims this decision casts doubt on the earlier verdict. The ECB stated their decision had been made after "considering all the evidence."

John Blain, once a Scotland international, is advocating for an investigation into both Cricket Scotland and Sportscotland after being exonerated of racism accusations. In January, Blain received a communication from Pete Fitzboydon, Cricket Scotland's chief executive, stating that an independent probe had determined the allegations against him were "unfounded," and thus, the matter was concluded.

These accusations were brought forth by Blain's former Scotland teammates, Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh, during an independent review process. This review, encapsulated in the 'Changing the Boundaries' report, highlighted 448 instances of systemic racism within Scottish cricket.

Although Blain was initially asked to keep the investigation’s findings confidential while Cricket Scotland communicated with the complainants, he decided to speak out after what his legal team referred to as "five months of delay and indecision."

In a statement, Blain, who had earned 118 caps for Scotland and was subsequently removed from the Cricket Scotland Hall of Fame, expressed that his life had been in limbo for an extended period. He emphasised that with his name now cleared, he was finally able to address the false accusations. Blain found it hard to accept that after providing significant support to Majid and Qasim throughout their careers, they would level such serious and untrue allegations against him.

A crucial point of the investigation was the rejection of Majid’s claim that Blain had used a racial slur during a 2007 tour to Kenya. A spokesperson for Sportscotland commented on the thoroughness of the 'Changing the Boundaries' report, noting that the subsequent referrals were handled by an independent investigative team, which included Harper MacLeod LLP, Bishop Lloyd and Jackson Solicitors, and Sporting Equals.

The spokesperson detailed that the process involved comprehensive investigation meetings with complainants, witnesses, and those accused. They stressed that commenting on individual cases would be inappropriate. Cricket Scotland added that they had engaged thoroughly with all parties during the intricate, challenging, and emotionally charged independent inquiry and would continue to respect the process, prioritising the welfare of all involved, to facilitate a unified progression for the sport.

Aamer Anwar, the solicitor representing Haq and Sheikh, conveyed on their behalf that both Majid and Qasim continued to suffer as victims of racism and faced ongoing abuse and exclusion for speaking out. He suggested that their clients had experienced various forms of racism without seeing significant action taken in response.

Anwar criticised the contrast between the support Blain received and the silence surrounding Majid and Qasim when they raised their concerns. He stated that Cricket Scotland had hoped the issue would dissipate, but it would persist. Anwar called for the public disclosure of facts, asserting that his clients had participated in good faith in a prolonged process that demonstrated the need for urgent changes in Scottish cricket to address and prevent institutional racism.

Blain is also pushing for the ECB to reassess a separate case where he was fined for using racist language. He contends that Majid’s unsubstantiated allegation had been used to support Azeem Rafiq’s similar claim, which played a crucial role in the ECB's decision against him, a verdict he now believes is untenable.

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