Azeem Rafiq racism allegations against Michael Vaughan ‘word against word’, says lawyer
Michael Vaughan’s lawyer has said that the allegations of racism made against the former England captain by Azeem Rafiq are “word against word”.
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.
After the England and Wales Cricket Board set out the cases against Hoggard, Bresnan and Blain on Wednesday, the case against Vaughan was the first to be heard by the independent Cricket Discipline Commission panel on day two of the hearing in London.
ECB lawyer Jane Mulcahy repeated the allegation that Vaughan, on the outfield prior to a T20 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 contends that Vaughan made the alleged comment and therefore “caused prejudice or disrepute to cricket”.
Vaughan’s lawyer then confirmed the 48-year-old denies the charge and said the burden of proof is on the ECB.
Christopher Stoner KC said: “Mr Vaughan cannot recall precisely what he said but is clear the words used and in the context used are unacceptable.
“Mr Vaughan is adamant he did not use them.
It was not in fact mentioned by anyone for a period of 11 years. Now 14 years after the event, it is word against word.
Christopher Stoner KC
“This panel will only have one contemporaneous document and one broadly contemporaneous document. The contemporaneous document is Sky footage where words are said to be spoken where the camera was close to players and broadcast.
“We say the entirety of that footage is inconsistent with anything untoward being said. The broadly contemporaneous document is Mr Vaughan’s autobiography and the fact it makes reference to that game and that the four Asian players who played is the start of things to come and good for Yorkshire cricket.
“The alleged comment was not said at the time and including at the end of the game where it would quite obviously have been discussed even between friends, even if it did not become formally reported.
“It was not in fact mentioned by anyone for a period of 11 years. Now 14 years after the event, it is word against word.”
Current England player Adil Rashid was then called as a witness via a video link from Bangladesh.
Stoner asked Rashid if he could remember the result of the match in question at Trent Bridge. Rashid could not.
Asked how many wickets he took, Rashid replied “zero”.
Asked if he could remember what the weather was like that day, Rashid said he could not.
Stoner asked Rashid: “You say what Mr Vaughan said on that day 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.
“You also state the words you allege he said was not said with any bad intentions?” asked Stoner.
“No, it was just bad humour,” said Rashid.
Asked if he could recall any other jokes told that day, Rashid said he could not, but that Vaughan’s “stuck in my head at that time”.
“But you yourself were not offended?” asked Stoner.
“No, I was not offended,” replied Rashid.
In his statement, Rashid had said that Vaughan’s comment was: “There are too many of you lot, we need to do something about it.”
Stoner pointed out that the comment Vaughan is charged with making is: “There’s too many of you lot, we need to have a word about that.”
“I have a very clear recollection,” insisted Rashid.
Vaughan, who arrived at the International Arbitration Centre earlier on Thursday, is the only one of the individuals charged by the ECB for bringing the game into disrepute set to attend the CDC hearing over the next week.
Rafiq, 32, first spoke out about his experience of racial harassment and bullying across two spells with the county in 2020.
The ECB brought charges against seven individuals, and Yorkshire, in June last year, with Rafiq succeeding in having the case dealt with in public by an independent panel.
Another player, Gary Ballance, has already admitted a charge related to the use of racially discriminatory language. Yorkshire have also admitted four charges.
At Wednesday’s hearing involving the cases against Hoggard, Bresnan and Blain, Mulcahy had said the “systemic use of racist or discriminatory language at Yorkshire during the relevant period” made it “more likely than not” that racist language was used by all three.
Hoggard and Ballance’s admission that they used the term ‘P***’ when referring to Asian players, Mulcahy said, “increased the likelihood of other words or phrases of racist or discriminatory meaning being used”.
Hoggard admitted using the term but denied any racist or discriminatory intent, Bresnan denied describing Asian women – including Rafiq’s sister Amna – as a “fit P***” or “FP”, and Blain denied calling Pakistani players ‘P***’ and ‘P***s’.
Rafiq attended the hearing but was not called to speak due to the lack of respondents present. The panel said there was no need to question the former bowler owing to the “bundle” of evidence already accumulated.