Aussie journo booked for racial abuse
Shafayat - received damages.

By S.R. Pathiravithana
The England and Wales Cricket Board have confirmed Bilal Shafayat has received substantial damages over the publication of racially insulting remarks by an Australian journalist.

The Nottinghamshire batsman has donated the money to the ECB's Chance to Shine initiative.

The article was posted on The Punch website by Australian journalist David Penberthy in July.

On the website, Penberthy has apologised and removed the offending article.

He said: "A few weeks ago I made a stupid and offensive joke in a piece written in the immediate aftermath of the drawn opening Ashes Test.

"It involved the alleged time-wasting tactics of the English side in the dying moments of the game, and referred to a private SMS (text message) exchange with a friend of mine which joked about the appearance of 12th man Bilal Shafayat.

"While I wrote in the piece that the text message was clearly offensive - and had construed the piece as a self-deprecating look at the stupid behaviour of sports fans - the decision to publish this private SMS was of itself the truly stupid aspect of the article.

"This is because it was not only insulting and demeaning to a decent man and sporting professional in Bilal Shafayat, but anyone else who faces ridicule on the basis of their appearance.

"I was going to apologise at the time and shut the piece but I didn't, for two reasons. The first was that I didn't want to be accused of trying to whip the issue up to drive traffic to the website.

"And given that life doesn't come with a reverse button I thought that shutting the piece was a convenient out and that I should just wear it, as shown by our publication of many comments critical of the piece.
"We have had a request from Bilal Shafayat through his lawyers for us to delete the piece from the website and we have now done that.

"I've also written to him personally and use this post to say publicly that I wish that life did come with a reverse button and that I'd never published this stupid joke."

Penberthy added his apology was "offered sincerely and without reservation to Mr Shafayat and anyone else who found the piece distressing".

An ECB spokesman said this was no "marginal case" over whether to take action - and the governing body's lawyers were immediately instructed to begin legal proceedings on their own behalf and that of Shafayat and his county.

The offending comments followed the first Test in Cardiff.

Shafayat's appearance there as England's 12th man ended in controversy when he twice took fresh gloves out to tailenders as the hosts batted out a tense final hour to claim a draw.

"In our experience, it was obvious this article was offensive to Bilal," said the ECB spokesman.
"We felt we had to take legal action to ensure the proper outcome."

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