Yorkshire Cricket racism hearing: Vaughan says claims had 'profound effect' on wellbeing

Michael Vaughan
Michael Vaughan arrives for the CDC Panel Hearing at the International Arbitration Centre, London. Credit: PA

Former England captain Michael Vaughan has said being accused of making a racist remark has had a "profound effect" on his health and wellbeing.

The broadcaster is alleged to have told a group of Asian players at Yorkshire "there's too many of you lot, we need to have a word about that" before a match in 2009.

Vaughan was called to give evidence on day three of a Cricket Discipline Commission hearing into claims of discrimination at Yorkshire prompted by the former player Azeem Rafiq.

The 48-year-old said: "Being named and implicated in this matter has had a profound effect on me.

"My health and personal wellbeing have suffered badly".

The alleged comment was read to Vaughan by England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) lawyer Jane Mulcahy KC.

He agreed that the language was racist and discriminatory but denied he had said it.

In his witness statement, he said: "I consider it to be inconceivable that I would use the words contained in the allegation."

Azeem Rafiq testified in front of the Digital, Media, Culture and Sport select committee about the abuse he had suffered at Yorkshire. Credit: House of Commons

It is alleged that the comment was made to Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Ajmal Shahzad, moments after a team huddle prior to a T20 match in 2009.

Rafiq and Rashid have both said they felt no offence was meant in Vaughan's alleged comment, and that it was probably just "bad humour".

Vaughan told the hearing: "If you go through the history of me as a player I don't know any time I'd have gone onto a pitch and said something to my team-mates that would have put them in a bad state of mind to play cricket.

"That comment I'm alleged to have said would have put my team-mates in a position not to be able to perform to their maximum."

Vaughan was asked if he saw the Asian players as being different, he said: "I wanted to make sure they were loved in the environment.

"I thought one of my main strengths was creating a culture, managing people. I'm a person who likes to manage people, make sure they are in the right space, in the right mentality to deliver their skill. I've always gone out of my way to make sure people are loved."

An historic tweet Vaughan posted in 2010 was brought up in the hearing, which referenced the service offered by telephone directory 118 118.

He wrote: "Why when you ring 118 118 are all the people who answer foreign...Can't make heads or tails of what they are saying.. Annoying."

Vaughan accepted that it was his tweet and said it is "unacceptable."

Mulcahy said: "I'm going to suggest to you the tweets are similar to the comment. Light-hearted but cause offence."

Vaughan responded by saying he had to go back to the "recollections of that game."

He added: "You've got three or four Asian players in the team at the same time, I couldn't have been more proud."

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.

But Vaughan is the only one to contest the charges in person.

Rafiq, 32, first shared his experience of racial harassment and bullying at his former club in 2020 when he made allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire County Cricket.

Last year, the ECB brought charges against seven individuals, and Yorkshire, with Rafiq succeeding in having the case dealt with in public by an independent panel.

Yorkshire have also admitted four charges. Another player, Gary Ballance, has already admitted a charge related to the use of racially discriminatory language.

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