‘Inherently probable’ Michael Vaughan made racist comment, says lawyer

Vaughan has been charged over an alleged comment made before a Yorkshire match in 2009

Andy Sims
Tuesday 07 March 2023 17:12 GMT
It is “inherently probable” Michael Vaughan made a racist comment towards a group of Yorkshire players of Asian ethnicity, an ECB lawyer said on Tuesday (James Manning/PA)
It is “inherently probable” Michael Vaughan made a racist comment towards a group of Yorkshire players of Asian ethnicity, an ECB lawyer said on Tuesday (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

It is “inherently probable” Michael Vaughan did make a racist comment towards four Yorkshire players of Asian ethnicity, a lawyer for the England and Wales Cricket Board told a hearing on Tuesday.

Vaughan is charged with bringing the game into disrepute by saying to Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Ajmal Shahzad “there’s too many of you lot, we need to have a word about that” prior to a Twenty20 match against Nottinghamshire in June 2009.

Vaughan categorically denies the allegation, but ECB lawyer Jane Mulcahy told a Cricket Discipline Commission hearing the alleged comment was “in the same vein” as tweets Vaughan posted around a similar time and argued it was therefore “inherently probable” the words were said.

The final written submissions began to be read out just after 2pm.

The ECB submission stated: “Michael Vaughan cannot refute the words because he cannot remember saying them. Instead, he asserts he would not have said those words.”

The alleged comment, the ECB said, was made only a year before Vaughan sent some tweets which the former England captain agreed were “completely unacceptable”.

“Those tweets were ostensibly light-hearted but in reality were offensive, as he also accepted,” added the submission.

“His comment to the players on June 22, 2009, was in the same vein.”

Vaughan’s closing submission ran to 32 pages plus another 22 pages of a ‘Sky footage storyboard’, still pictures of the footage filmed at the time the comment was alleged to have been made.

Mulcahy said the fact Vaughan shook hands with “only the Asian players” was telling.

“This action clearly signifies that he identifies the four cricketers as a distinct group, consistent with the words ‘you lot'” Mulcahy said.

The former England captain is one of seven individuals with connections to Yorkshire who were charged by the ECB in June last year in relation to allegations made by Rafiq.

Vaughan is the only one of those charged individuals to have attended the hearing in person. Five others – John Blain, Tim Bresnan, Andrew Gale, Matthew Hoggard and Richard Pyrah – have had charges against them heard in their absence. A further former Yorkshire player, Gary Ballance, has admitted a charge of using racist and/or discriminatory language towards Rafiq and has therefore not appeared.

Yorkshire have also admitted four amended charges and therefore club representatives have not appeared.

Mulcahy detailed further evidence the panel should consider when coming to a verdict.

It included the fact Vaughan admitted that the 19-second period during which the camera was off the players at the 2009 match was long enough to make the comment.

She also referenced further tweets from Vaughan from 2017.

“Those tweets have a very similar tone to the comment allegedly made on June 22, 2009,” Mulcahy said.

Mulcahy also noted how “not a single player from the Yorkshire team that day has been prepared to give evidence in support of Michael Vaughan’s position”.

She also claimed that the criticism of the ECB’s investigation from Vaughan’s lawyer was intended to “deflect attention away from Vaughan’s conduct”.

Mulcahy concluded: “The CDC should find that Michael Vaughan said the words alleged; that the words were racist and/or discriminatory, and that the words may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket or may bring Michael Vaughan or the game of cricket into disrepute.

“That being the case, Michael Vaughan is in breach of directive 3.3.”

Vaughan’s lawyer, Christopher Stoner KC, then began his summing-up, describing the ECB’s investigation in this case as “wholly inadequate”.

The written submission on behalf of Vaughan stated: “As this hearing closes, now some 5,006 days after the words were alleged to have been spoken, the burden of proving that the words were said, which is so plainly on the ECB, has simply not been discharged.

“The overall reliability, sufficiency and weight of the evidence, in the context of what is a very serious matter, is such that it is simply not possible for the panel to determine that it is more probable than not that the alleged words were spoken by Mr Vaughan.”

Stoner added: “Due process matters and we say our client has been denied due process.

“The ECB holds jurisdiction over my client, who retired in 2009, but apparently not the other players that day. We say in reality there was no investigation.”

Tuesday’s proceedings began with the charges against Gale and Pyrah being read out.

Former Yorkshire bowling coach Pyrah is alleged to have used the term “you lot” when speaking to three Yorkshire players of Asian ethnicity – Rafiq, Rashid and Shahzad.

He was alleged to have said: “Why are you lot always together? Why don’t you come and chill with us?” before a match in 2011.

Mulcahy said that given Hoggard admitted to using the term “you lot” and Bresnan had admitted it was used on a day-to-day basis, “it is clear the phrase was widely used in and around the Yorkshire dressing room”.

Pyrah is also charged with using the term “fit P***” and “FP” when describing Asian women.

Pyrah denies the allegations and told the ECB he had a positive professional relationship with Rafiq.

Gale is charged with one breach of ECB directive 3.3, by using racist and/or discriminatory language towards former Yorkshire bowler Rafiq.

Mulcahy said: “Mr Gale frequently used the word P*** towards Rafiq.”

He also allegedly used a racial slur towards Mosun Hussain, a Yorkshire academy player. Gale has denied the allegations.

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