Suspended CEO Manu Sawhney accuses ICC of ‘witch-hunt’

ICC Chief Executive leaves the organisation with immediate effect
ICC Chief Executive leaves the organisation with immediate effect.

Suspended chief executive of the International Cricket Council has claimed that he was made a victim of “witch-hunt” in the world governing body for the sport.

I’m a victim of premeditated witch-hunt, alleged Sawhney, who has been suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as its CEO on allegations of misconduct.

The ICC had sent Sawhney on “leave” after auditor PWC had raised questions about his conduct. He had subsequently been suspended.

“It is abundantly clear to me, as it would be to any reasonable person or bystander, that I am the victim of a premeditated witch-hunt. All pretence at undertaking a fair process or giving me a fair hearing has been completely abandoned,” Sawhney has told Cricbzz.

“There has been no attempt to comply with the ICC’s internal policies or even basic principles of natural justice,” Sawhney reportedly said.

“These allegations have been based completely on anonymous statements which no one has made any attempt to verify or investigate. On the basis of our bullet points, I could potentially lose my livelihood and my reputation. Frankly, the whole situation is nothing short of a scandal.”

“Nevertheless, I believe it is crucially important for my own integrity, and that of the ICC, that I resist this blatant attempt to force me from office, which would set an extremely dangerous precedent. I am also determined to ensure that the significant achievements of the ICC during my tenure are not airbrushed out of history. I will also exercise my right to appeal any guilty decision to the board, in accordance with paragraph 7 of the ICC’s disciplinary policy and clause 17.4 of my employment contract,” he added.

Sawhney has also questioned the PWC report. “The PWC report expressly states that its objective was to understand and assess the current culture and underlying organizational behaviours within the ICC,” he said.

“The PWC report is therefore the product of a generic assessment of workplace culture, it is not a product of a thorough disciplinary investigation that adheres to the basic rules of evidence. In other words, the exercise undertaken by the PWC should not be confused with a proper disciplinary investigation.”

Sawhney, appointed chief executive in 2019, has been accused of four specific offences – targeted acts of bullying against certain staff, exhibiting physical aggression, such as fist banging, impacting directly or indirectly on individuals’ health and wellbeing through his behaviour and failing to report to the Board and implemented decisions without proper consultation.

The PWC report, however, has not been made public.