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Racism claims against ex-England captain Vaughan 'not proved'

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

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

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

In a report released on Friday, the Cricket Discipline Commission said it was "not satisfied on the balance of probabilities" that Vaughan had used the alleged words.

It pointed out "significant inconsistencies" in how the two key witnesses -- Rafiq and England bowler Adil Rashid -- had recalled the wording that Vaughan allegedly 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, said the process had taken a "toll" on him and his family and it had been "upsetting to hear about Rafiq's experiences.

"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," the 48-year-old said in a statement on social media.

The former batsman, who has worked as a TV and radio pundit since his retirement added: "I have never wanted to do anything that runs contrary to genuine efforts to clean up the game of cricket.

"I truly hope people can understand why, on a personal level, I could not just accept, or apologise for, something which I know I did not do."

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.

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".

Former Yorkshire and England player Gary Ballance, who now plays for his native Zimbabwe, admitted using racist and/or discriminatory language prior to the hearing.

Yorkshire admitted four amended charges against them, with the panel to disclose any sanctions against the club and the individuals at a later date.

In a statement on Twitter, Rafiq pointed out that charges against seven of the eight defendants had been upheld.

"This comes in addition to the other reports, panels and inquiries that found I and others suffered racial harassment and bullying while at Yorkshire," he said.

"The issue has never been about individuals but the game as a whole.Cricket needs to understand the extent of its problems and address them.

"Hopefully, the structures of the game can now be rebuilt and institutionalised racism ended for good."

ECB chairman Richard Thompson said cricket must learn from an "incredibly challenging period" to make the sport more inclusive.

"When Azeem Rafiq spoke out about his time in cricket, he exposed a side of our game which no one should have to experience," he said."We are grateful for his courage and perseverance."

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