Vaughan racism allegations ‘word against word’, cricket hearing told

Michael Vaughan’s lawyer said allegations of racism made against the former England captain by Azeem Rafiq are “word against word” at a hearing in London on Thursday.

Pakistan-born Rafiq, 32, first went public with allegations of racism and bullying in September 2020, related to his two spells at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

He told British lawmakers in December 2022 the abuse he and his family had faced had forced him to leave the UK.

Vaughan and fellow former Yorkshire players Matthew Hoggard, Tim Bresnan, John Blain, Andrew Gale and Richard Pyrah all face charges related to the use of racially discriminatory language.

The case against Vaughan was heard by the Cricket Discipline Commission panel on Thursday’s second day of the hearing.

ECB lawyer Jane Mulcahy repeated the allegation that Vaughan, on the outfield prior to a Twenty20 match between Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge on June 22, 2009, remarked about four Asian players that “there’s too many of you lot”.

The players were his Yorkshire team-mates Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Rana Naved ul-Hasan and Ajmal Shahzad.

Mulcahy said the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) contends Vaughan made the alleged comment and therefore “caused prejudice or disrepute to cricket”.

Vaughan’s lawyer confirmed the 48-year-old denies the charge and said the burden of proof was on the ECB.

“Mr Vaughan cannot recall precisely what he said but is clear the words used and in the context used are unacceptable,” said Christopher Stoner.

“Mr Vaughan is adamant he did not use them.”

Stoner also said Vaughan’s autobiography made it clear that having four Asian players in the team was “good for Yorkshire cricket”.

He added that the allegation was “not in fact mentioned by anyone for a period of 11 years”.

“Now, 14 years after the event, it is word against word,” he added.

Rashid was called as a witness via a video link from Bangladesh, where he is playing in a one-day international series for England.

Stoner asked Rashid: “You say what Mr Vaughan said on that day (June 22, 2009) was a poor attempt at humour?” to which Rashid replied: “Yes, that is correct.”

“I can take you through your witness statement and say that as far as you are concerned, Mr Vaughan is not racist,” added Stoner.

“Yep, that’s correct,” said Rashid.

In an interview with the ECB shown at the hearing, Rashid’s “close friend” Shahzad said he thought Rashid was being put under pressure by Rafiq.

But Rashid, during more than an hour in front of the CDC panel, denied that was the case.

Rashid voiced his support for Rafiq’s key allegation against Vaughan in a November article for the Cricketer magazine written by journalist George Dobell.

Asked if Dobell had pressured him, Rashid replied: “No, I was not pressured.”

During Stoner’s cross-examination, the 35-year-old leg-spinner was questioned over his memory of the exact wording allegedly used by Vaughan.

“I have a very clear recollection actually,” said Rashid. “I think you already know the words — ‘there’s too many of you lot’.”

Vaughan is the only one of the cricketers charged by the ECB over bringing the game into disrepute set to attend the CDC hearing over the next week.

The ECB brought charges against seven individuals, and Yorkshire, in June last year.

Another player, Gary Ballance, has already admitted a charge related to the use of racially discriminatory language.

Ballance, a former England Test player, is now playing for the country of his birth, Zimbabwe.

Yorkshire have also admitted four charges.

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