DateLine: 9th October 2007
Darrell Hair on Tuesday dropped his claim for racial discrimination against the International Cricket Council (ICC) in a move the Australian hopes will lead to a resumption of his career as a Test match umpire next year.
A statement made to a London employment tribunal on the seventh day of what was supposed to be a ten-day hearing said that Hair "unconditionally" withdrew his allegation of race discrimination by world cricket's governing body.
Under a deal initiated by Hair's legal team, the 55-year-old umpire will now work with ICC management on a "rehabilitation" programme and the ICC will decide in March 2008 whether he can return to top-level umpiring.
Hair secured no guarantees over his future and it remains to be seen whether ICC executives who were in favour of his demotion from top-level matches will be won round to the idea that his career can be properly resumed.
The Australian also faces a hefty bill for his legal and personal costs as well as those of potential witnesses. The ICC will meet its own costs, which a spokesman said were less than 500,000 dollars.
Hair took the ICC to the tribunal after being barred from officiating in Test matches following last year's controversial England-Pakistan match at The Oval.
The Test became the first in history to be won by forfeit after Pakistan refused to resume playing after being penalised for ball tampering by Australian Hair and his fellow umpire Billy Doctrove, a black West Indian.
Hair had claimed he was a victim of racial discrimination because, while he has not been allowed to officiate in Tests since the incident, Doctrove has been able to continue his top-level career.
Pending the conclusion of his rehabilitation programme, Hair will continue to umpire matches just below Test level.
ICC president Ray Mali welcomed the move and said: "We are pleased the issue has been resolved. We had no option but to defend these serious allegations."
The ICC will however have been relieved to have avoided the risk of an adverse judgement that would have been hugely embarrassing.
Hair's solicitor, Paul Gilbert, said his client had no regrets about bringing the case and said he was pleased that the ICC would now look at the possibility of restoring Hair to the ranks of Test match umpires.
"This is really about getting back to umpiring top cricket matches," Gilbert said. "Darrell feels relieved and glad it's all over, and he does feel this is in the best interests of all parties.
"What we have now is a future for Darrell that leads to the possibility of his return to top-level umpiring."
Over the coming six months Hair will umpire in ICC associate matches and possibly help train younger officials before a recommendation is made as to his future by ICC officials led by David Richardson, the general manager.
This will ultimately be determined by the full ICC Board.
Although his contract expires next March, Hair will remain as an ICC employee for at least 12 months after that, as that is the length of notice of dismissal he has to be given under his contract.
Hair left the tribunal without making any comment and will return to his native Australia at the weekend.
(Article: Copyright © 2007 AFP)
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