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Ex-England cricket captain Vaughan cleared of racism on 'balance of probabilities'

Former England Test captain Michael Vaughan attends a Cricket Discipline Commission hearing in London. ©AFP

London (AFP) - Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan was Friday cleared "on the balance of probabilities" of using racist language before a match for county club Yorkshire in 2009.

The 2005 Ashes-winning captain was alleged to have used the term "you lot" when referring to a group of four players of South Asian ethnicity, including Pakistan-born Azeem Rafiq.

A Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) report said it was "not satisfied on the balance of probabilities" that Vaughan spoke the words he was alleged to have used.

But it added that its findings "do not in any way undermine the wider assertions" made by Rafiq, who told lawmakers in November 2021 that English cricket was "institutionally racist".

In its concluding remarks the CDC report said: "This is not a case which necessitated a conclusion from the panel that anyone has lied or acted out of malice. 

"Far from it, the panel had to consider whether the case as presented to it by the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board), in light of all the evidence, was sufficiently accurate and reliable, on the balance of probabilities, to rule out mistake.It was not."

Vaughan, who appeared in person at a CDC hearing earlier this month to answer the charges brought by the ECB, thanked the panel for "their careful attention in very difficult circumstances".

"It has been both difficult and upsetting to hear about the painful experiences which Azeem has described over the past three years," the 48-year-old said in a statement on social media.

"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."

Yorkshire accepted in September 2021 that Rafiq, now 32, had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying during his time at the club.

But they subsequently confirmed nobody would be disciplined, a decision that was greeted with widespread incredulity.

Pressure mounted on Yorkshire, who were briefly stripped of the right to host international matches at Headingley.

Racism scandal

The scandal sparked an exodus of senior boardroom figures and 16 members of the club's coaching and backroom staff were dismissed.

Former off-spinner Rafiq, who had two spells at Yorkshire, told a British parliamentary committee in December 2022 that the abuse he and his family had faced had forced him to leave the country.

The CDC panel upheld charges against five other former players and coaches, including England Test stars Tim Bresnan and Matthew Hoggard, in relation to the use of racist and/or discriminatory language.

None of the five attended the CDC hearing in London, with Hoggard saying the ECB's disciplinary procedures had "failed everybody".

Yorkshire had previously admitted four charges, including a failure to address systemic use of racist and/or discriminatory language at the club over a prolonged period.

Former Yorkshire and England player Gary Ballance, who now plays for his native Zimbabwe, previously apologised to Rafiq for "racist" language he used towards his former Yorkshire teammate.

Sanctions will be announced at a later date.

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