Yorkshire knew Ballance had called Rafiq a ‘P***’ when he signed new contract

Former Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton has claimed the club was given legal advice not to discipline Gary Ballance after he admitted to using a racial slur against Azeem Rafiq.

It was revealed earlier this week that Yorkshire had cleared Ballance of wrongdoing after a report into allegations of racism at the club found that the ex-England batter had admitted to calling Rafiq a "P***".

It was concluded that the comments were "friendly and good-natured banter" and Ballance later released a lengthy statement where he said he "deeply regrets" some of the language he used.

Ballance recently signed a new three-year deal with Yorkshire and Hutton has admitted that the club made the contract offer after they became aware that he had used a racist term towards his former teammate.

Speaking to the BBC, Hutton said: "When the club was on notice [about the language used] it carried out its own internal investigation with fresh lawyers.

"Ballance was interviewed and he explained the entire context, which isn't in the public domain.

"Clearly, it would have been politically sensible and expedient to take disciplinary action, but legal advice said that's not what we should do."

Hutton also insisted that he would not describe anyone involved with the club as racist, adding: "I never personally met anyone at Yorkshire in the 18 months that I was there who I consider a racist.

"I have seen a culture that finds it difficult to accept challenge and change."

In his initial statement, Hutton "apologised unreservedly" to Rafiq, saying: "I would like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to Azeem.

"I am sorry that we could not persuade executive members of the board to recognise the gravity of the situation and show care and contrition.

"There has been a constant unwillingness from the executive members of the board and senior management at the club to apologise and to accept racism and to look forward.

"During my time as chairman, I take responsibility for failing to persuade them to take appropriate and timely action."

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