Page last updated at 13:13 GMT, Friday, 21 August 2009 14:13 UK

Damages for cricketer over 'joke'

Bilal Shafayat
Bilal Shafayat was given an unreserved apology by the journalist

A Nottinghamshire cricketer has received damages and an unreserved apology over offensive comments made by an Australian journalist.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has confirmed that Bilal Shafayat was compensated after an article was published on The Punch website in July.

David Penberthy's article referred to Mr Shafayat's appearance in the final moments of the opening Ashes Test.

Mr Shafayat has donated the money to a cricket charity.

The apology offered to Mr Shafayat by Mr Penberthy 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.

'Clearly offensive'

"It involved the alleged time-wasting tactics of the English side in the dying moments of the game, and referred to a private SMS 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.

It is right and proper that Bilal should receive an unreserved apology
England and Wales Cricket Board

"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."

A spokesman for the ECB said: "It is right and proper that Bilal should receive an unreserved apology for the regrettable and offensive racist comment in an Australian publication."

A statement from Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club said: "Nationwide News have agreed to pay significant damages and costs as well as offering an unreserved apology.

"Bilal has generously decided to donate the damages to the Cricket Foundation's Chance to Shine initiative.

"The offending article has also been removed from the website on which it was published."



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