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Racism charge against ex-England cricket captain Michael Vaughan 'not proved' with witness accounts 'inconsistent'
31 March 2023, 12:13 | Updated: 31 March 2023, 15:29
The charge of racism levelled against former England and Yorkshire cricket captain have been found 'not proved' after an internal investigation found witness evidence had "significant inconsistencies".
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Vaughan was alleged to have said "there's too many of you lot, we need to do something about it" to four Yorkshire players of Asian ethnicity ahead of a county match in June 2009.
One of those players was Azeem Rafiq, who first claimed he had suffered discrimination across two stints with Yorkshire in 2020.
Vaughan had always denied the charge, and appeared in public earlier this month at the internal cricket discipline commission (CDC) investigating the allegation.
He said that at times he had come close to "falling out of love with cricket" amid the stress of the allegations against him.
He wrote on his Instagram account on Friday morning after the charge was dropped: "The dismissal of the specific charge that concerned me takes nothing away from Azeem's own lived experiences."
Vaughan was alleged to have used the term towards Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Ajmal Shahzad as the Yorkshire team broke from their huddle at Trent Bridge during a T20 game.
He said on Instagram: "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."
But he added: "Particularly with an issue such as this, CDC proceedings were an inappropriate, inadequate and backwards step.
"One of many reasons why I hold that view is because CDC proceedings are adversarial. They invite claim and counterclaim. They invite those involved to accuse each other of untruths or of lying.
"The inevitable consequence of the ECB's decision-making was that three former teammates, one of whom is a current England international player [Rashid], were pitted against one another in what later became a public forum for the world at large to see."
Rashid appeared as a witness at the hearing to corroborate Rafiq's allegation concerning the "you lot" phrase.
Vaughan added: "Despite being criticised by the ECB for not accusing others of lying, I remain of the view that no good can come of that approach. There are no winners in this process and there are better ways - there have to be better ways - for cricket to move forward positively and effectively."
The CDC panel's decision on Vaughan said: "There are significant inconsistencies in the evidence of both primary witnesses, AZR (Rafiq) and ADR (Rashid), in this regard.
"These are recognised by the ECB in the manner in which it closed its case.
"Considering all the relevant evidence on this first limb of the charge (that the conduct in question occurred), the panel is not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that this form of words was said.
"Accordingly, the first limb of the ECB's charge against MV [Vaughan] is not proved."
The panel said it became clear in cross-examination of Rafiq that different versions of the second half of the phrase Vaughan was alleged to have said had been used at different times in the proceedings.
The phrase was variously alleged to have ended "we need to do something about it" or "we need to have a word about that".
Rafiq said in cross-examination he genuinely remembered it to be "we need to have a word about that" but added "clearly there are discrepancies".
The panel added: "Moreover AZR [Rafiq] was commendably straightforward when he stated that 'I have got to take responsibility for any inaccuracies'.
"Given the specific nature of the allegation, these inconsistencies are significant, not least since these are matters which are being recalled some 11 years and more later.
"Moreover they also have an impact upon the clarity with which AZR states that he recalls the matter."
Charges against former England internationals and Yorkshire players Matthew Hoggard and Tim Bresnan of using discriminatory language have been proven.
Ex-Yorkshire coaches Andrew Gayle and Richard Pyrah have also had charges proven against them. They have the right to appeal.