Michael Vaughan: Former England cricket captain cleared of charge of making racist comment at Yorkshire

Michael Vaughan initially announced on social media that the ECB charge against him had been dismissed (PA)
Michael Vaughan initially announced on social media that the ECB charge against him had been dismissed (PA)

Michael Vaughan has been cleared of making a racist comment towards a group of Asian team-mates during his time at Yorkshire.

The former England captain was alleged to have referred to the group of four players — which included spinner Azeem Rafiq and current England international Adil Rashid — as “you lot” during a team huddle ahead of a T20 match against Nottinghamshire in 2009, but a Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) panel said it was “not satisfied on the balance of probabilities” that the comment had been made.

Vaughan was one of seven individuals charged by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in June last year as part of an investigation stemming largely from allegations made by Rafiq over racial harassment and bullying at Yorkshire.

Five of the other men — Matthew Hoggard, Andrew Gale, Tim Bresnan, Richard Pyrah and John Blain — have been found guilty on some counts of using racist or discriminatory language and have 14 days to lodge appeals, with sanctions to be determined at a future date.

Delivering its verdict on Friday morning, the independent CDC panel said the decision to clear Vaughan did not “in any way undermine the wider assertions made by Rafiq”, but said it had been “required to concentrate on the focused evidence presented to it by both parties in respect of one comment, made in two parts, on an an afternoon now nearly 14 years ago”.

During a hearing held in London, Vaughan accepted that the phrase “there’s too many of you lot, we need to do something about that” was racist but categorically denied ever having used it.

“This is not a case which necessitated a conclusion from the Panel that anyone has lied or acted out of malice,” the verdict read.

Azeem Rafiq (PA)
Azeem Rafiq (PA)

“Far from it, the Panel had to consider whether the case as presented to it by the ECB, in light of all the evidence, was sufficiently accurate and reliable, on the balance of probabilities, to rule out mistake. It was not.”

Vaughan’s lawyer had warned that his client’s “life and livelihood” were at stake and criticised the ECB’s investigation as “wholly inadequate” after it emerged that several players and umpires involved in the infamous 2009 match were not spoken to.

Reacting to the decision on Friday morning, Vaughan labelled the ECB’s disciplinary process “inappropriate, inadequate and backwards” and said the saga had “brought me to the brink of falling out of love with cricket”.

“The dismissal of the specific charge that concerned me takes nothing away from Azeem’s own lived experiences,” Vaughan said. “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.”

Vaughan was the only one of the seven individuals charged to appear at the hearing, with the cases against Blain, Bresnan, Gale, Hoggard and Pyrah all heard in their absences after the quintet refused to take part. The seventh individual, former England batter Gary Ballance, had already admitted liability and is awaiting news of any sanction.

Yorkshire admitted four charges, including a failure to address systemic use of racist and discriminatory language, and go into the County Championship season awaiting punishment, which could include a points deduction.