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England cricketer Ollie Robinson's suspension 'over the top', culture secretary says
7 June 2021, 10:51 | Updated: 7 June 2021, 14:02
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said the England and Wales Cricket Board has gone "over the top" by suspending Ollie Robinson for offensive tweets from nearly 10 years ago.
Robinson was temporarily suspended from international cricket while an investigation into his old racist and sexist tweets was opened up.
The bowler was dropped from the squad for the second Test against New Zealand due to begin on Thursday at Edgbaston.
He will remain suspended until the outcome of the disciplinary investigation into his tweets is decided.
The official statement from England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed Robinson would leave the England camp immediately and return to Sussex.
Having only been 18 and 19 when he shared the tweets, Mr Dowden said the board should rethink their decision.
Ollie Robinson’s tweets were offensive and wrong.— Oliver Dowden (@OliverDowden) June 7, 2021
They are also a decade old and 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.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said Boris Johnson is "supportive" of the Culture Secretary's comments.
"As Oliver Dowden set out, these were comments made more than a decade ago, written by someone as a teenager, and for which they have rightly apologised," the spokesman said.
Robinson's comments were made less than a decade ago.
The tweets from 2012 and 2013 were first discovered during Robinson's England debut at the first Test against New Zealand at Lord's.
Robinson issued an apology in a statement, saying he was "thoughtless and irresponsible" and had since "matured as a person".
Following the revelation, England captain Joe Root said: "In regards to the stuff that’s happened off the field, it’s not acceptable within our game. We all know that.
"[Robinson] addressed the dressing room straight away. He obviously spoke to you guys and other media outlets straight away, fronted up to it.
"He showed a lot of remorse from that point onwards. You can see it’s very genuine from how he’s been around the group and the team."
Shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens said: "It is right that the ECB takes the action that they think is necessary and appropriate to tackle racism and other forms of discrimination in their sport.
"They should not be criticised for doing so by the Secretary of State."