NEW Yorkshire chair Lord Patel has apologised to Azeem Rafiq over the county's handling of his racism and bullying allegations.

The county have been widely criticised, with the ECB's suspension of their right to host international matches and other major games set to hit their finances hard, alongside sponsors walking away.

"Azeem is a whistleblower and should be praised as such, he should never have been put through this," Patel said at a press conference.

"We're sorry for what you and your family have experienced and the way in which we've handled this. I thank Azeem for his bravery in speaking out.

"Let me be clear from the outset, racism or discrimination in any form is not banter."

Patel's reference to "banter" came after that term was reportedly used in the county's report into Rafiq's allegations.

It was reported that a team-mate had repeatedly used the word p*** as a derogatory slur aimed towards Rafiq, but the allegation was not upheld on the basis that it was in the context of friendly exchanges between the two.

Patel also said Yorkshire had settled a separate employment tribunal with Rafiq.

"Absolutely no restrictions have been placed on Azeem on what he can or cannot say about his experiences. The settlement does not involve a non-disclosure agreement," Patel said.

Patel said he was also commissioning a specialist independent review of the county's processes and procedures on diversity and inclusion.

The chair said he had spoken to the ECB about the restoration of international cricket but that Yorkshire would have to "address the root causes" that had led to the suspension.

He added: "What I've seen so far (of the report) does feel uncomfortable. It makes me feel the process wasn't as well completed as it should have been."