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Suspension of Ollie Robinson for racist and sexist tweets is ‘over the top,’ says Culture Secretary


Ollie Robinson has been suspended from international cricket over tweets he posted when he was a teenager - PA/Adam Davy

Ollie Robinson has been suspended from international cricket over tweets he posted when he was a teenager – PA/Adam Davy

The Culture Secretary has accused the England and Wales Cricket Board of going “over the top” after it suspended the England cricketer Ollie Robinson for historic sexist and racist tweets.

Oliver Dowden said that while the bowler’s tweets were “offensive and wrong,” they had been “written by a teenager”.

“The teenager is now a man and has rightly apologised. The ECB has gone over the top by suspending him and should think again,” he said on Monday.

Mr Robinson was suspended from international cricket on Sunday and taken off the team for England’s next test match against New Zealand over tweets he posted in 2012 and 2013.

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The ECB will now hold an investigation into his comments, which were posted when he was 18 and 19 and playing second team cricket for Kent, Leicestershire and Yorkshire.

The offensive tweets included: “I wonder if Asian people put smileys like this ¦) #racist”; “My new muslim friend is the bomb. #wheeyyyyy”; “Real n—– don’t let the microwave hit 0:00”; and “Wash your fingers for the mingers #cuban”.

The investigation will include an interview with the cricketer to understand his motivations at the time of posting the messages, and he will not be allowed to return to international cricket until it is complete.

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He will also be told to undergo anti-racism and unconscious bias training and get involved with ECB projects working with minorities.

Mr Dowden’s intervention comes after Lord Goldsmith, a foreign office minister, said his suspension was “completely disproportionate and absurd”.

George Freeman, a Tory backbencher, said: “Seriously? Posting inappropriate tweets when a teenager – for which he’s apologised – is now a disqualifying crime for playing cricket for your country? Seriously??”

Mr Robinson has apologised to the team and cricket fans for the tweets.

“I am embarrassed by the racist and sexist tweets that I posted over eight years ago, which have today become public,” he said. “I want to make it clear that I’m not racist and I’m not sexist.

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“I deeply regret my actions, and I am ashamed of making such remarks.

Joe Root, the team’s captain, said England would support him but that the comments were “not acceptable within our game”.

“He fronted up to it, showed a lot of remorse and you can see it’s very genuine from how he’s been around the group,” Mr Root added.

“I think it’s a great lesson for everyone within our game that we can all do more.”

The historic tweets were uncovered as Mr Robinson made a remarkable test cricket debut for England on June 2.

The ECB was unaware of his past comments until it was alerted by the media during the test match.

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