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Essex have been charged by the ECB with bringing the game into disrepute over the failure to properly investigate an alleged racist comment made by the club's former chairman, John Faragher, in 2017.
Faragher resigned from his position in November, despite denying the claim made against him. It was reported by the Times that he had used the phrase "n***** in the woodpile" during a committee meeting.
Essex have now been charged in relation to ECB directive 3.3, which states: "No participant may conduct themself in a manner or do any act or omission at any time which may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket or which may bring the ECB, the game of cricket or any cricketer or group of cricketers into disrepute."
The case will be heard by the Cricket Discipline Commission, with the ECB looking to make a stance on discrimination within the game in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal at Yorkshire, and subsequent criticism by the government.
In a statement, Essex said: "The club takes this matter extremely seriously. We have co-operated fully with the ECB's investigations since they commenced last year and will continue to do so as the process moves to this next stage."
After Faragher's departure, Essex's incoming chief executive, John Stephenson, said the club had a "zero-tolerance policy towards racism". Essex also followed Yorkshire's lead in setting up an independent investigation in allegations of historic racism, overseen by Katherine Newton QC.
Former Essex players Maurice Chambers, Zoheb Shariff and Jahid Ahmed all went public last year to allege that they had been on the receiving end of abusive comments and treatment during their time at Chelmsford.