Michael Vaughan cleared of using racist language before Yorkshire match

Michael Vaughan cleared of using racist language before Yorkshire match

Michael Vaughan has been cleared of using racist language towards Asian players at Yorkshire but five other players formerly connected to the club have been found liable on the same charge.

Former England captain Vaughan was alleged to have referred to a group of four players of Asian ethnicity as “you lot” prior to a T20 Cup match against Nottinghamshire in June 2009, but a Cricket Discipline Commission panel found the charge not proven.

The panel found “significant inconsistencies” in how the two key witnesses – Azeem Rafiq and Adil Rashid – had recalled the precise wording of the second half of the phrase allegedly used by Vaughan. The panel was also not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the first part of the alleged phrase – “there’s too many of you lot” – was said either, having taken into account all the relevant evidence.

The panel added that its findings on Vaughan “do not in any way undermine the wider assertions made by AZR (Rafiq), many of which of course have been confirmed by the admissions of both YCCC and certain individuals, as well as by other findings of this panel”.

Vaughan was one of seven individuals initially charged by the England and Wales Cricket Board last June, along with Yorkshire. Those charges followed an investigation by the ECB into Yorkshire’s handling of racism allegations first made by Rafiq in 2020.

Vaughan welcomed the decision but said in a statement: “The dismissal of the specific charge that concerned me takes nothing away from Azeem’s own lived experiences.

“It has been both difficult and upsetting to hear about the painful experiences which Azeem has described over the past three years.

“The outcome of these CDC proceedings must not be allowed to detract from the core message that there can be no place for racism in the game of cricket, or in society generally.”

John Blain, Tim Bresnan, Andrew Gale, Matthew Hoggard and Richard Pyrah were found liable of using racist and/or discriminatory language by the CDC panel.

All five were found to have used the term “P***” by the panel. Gale and Hoggard were additionally found to have used the nickname ‘Rafa the Kaffir’ towards Rafiq, and Hoggard to have used the phrase “token black man” to refer to wicketkeeper Ismail Dawood.

None of the five appeared at a public hearing into this case held earlier in March after they withdrew from the process. Vaughan did appear to give evidence to the panel.

The seventh individual, Gary Ballance, admitted using racist and/or discriminatory language prior to the hearing, while Yorkshire admitted four amended charges against them, including a failure to address the use of racist and/or discriminatory language over a prolonged period.

Sanctions on the admitted or proven charges will be determined by the panel at a later date.

Rafiq issued a statement after the decisions were published which read: “Charges against seven of the eight defendants, including the widespread use of the ‘P’ word, have been upheld by the CDC today.

“This comes in addition to the other reports, panels and inquiries that found I and others suffered racial harassment and bullying while at Yorkshire.

“The issue has never been about individuals but the game as a whole. Cricket needs to understand the extent of its problems and address them. Hopefully, the structures of the game can now be rebuilt and institutionalised racism ended for good. It’s time to reflect, learn and implement change.”

There were immediate calls from the likes of television presenter Piers Morgan for the BBC to reinstate Vaughan, who had been part of the corporation’s Test Match Special commentary team.

The BBC said it noted the decisions of the CDC panel, and that it had remained in touch with Vaughan throughout the CDC process even though he was not under contract with the corporation.

“At this stage, we won’t be commenting further,” the BBC statement concluded.

The ECB chair Richard Thompson said: “This has been an incredibly challenging period for our sport, but one we must all learn from in order to make cricket better and more inclusive.

“When Azeem Rafiq spoke out about his time in cricket, he exposed a side of our game which no one should have to experience. We are grateful for his courage and perseverance.

Azeem Rafiq discusses his allegations of racism at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee hearing
Azeem Rafiq discusses his allegations of racism at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee hearing (House of Commons/PA)

“Given the nature of these cases, they have taken a clear toll on everyone involved. There now needs to be a time of reconciliation where, as a game, we can collectively learn and heal the wounds and ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again.

“This has been the most complex and thorough regulatory investigation and disciplinary process that the ECB has ever conducted.

“It covered emotive allegations spanning a period of nearly 20 years with rigour and diligence and was overseen throughout by industry-leading KCs and three very experienced independent members of a sub-group of the regulatory committee. I would like to thank the CDC panel and all those involved in working on these important proceedings.

“The decisions published today are the findings of an independent CDC panel, reaching its own decisions based on the evidence before it, and it is now for the panel to determine what sanctions are appropriate where charges have been admitted or upheld. Having only received the decisions today, we will need time to consider them carefully.

“At its best, our sport is one that brings people together and connects communities. It is now time, as we also prepare to receive the report of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket, to work together to continue, expand and accelerate the work that is under way to change for the better, so that we can make cricket the UK’s most inclusive sport.”