According to Michael Vaughan, the ECB’s probe into racism at Yorkshire was “woefully insufficient
The investigation into whether former England captain Michael Vaughan made an alleged racist comment in 2009 was “woefully inadequate”, a hearing has been told.
The investigation was held by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), starting in October 2021 before charges were brought in June 2022.
Vaughan, 48, is accused of saying “there’s too many of you lot, we need to have a word about that” to Azeem Rafiq and three other Asian players representing Yorkshire before a T20 match against Nottinghamshire.
In his closing submissions to a Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) panel on Tuesday, Vaughan’s lawyer Christopher Stoner KC accused the ECB of having a “biased position”.
In reply, ECB lawyer Jane Mulcahy KC said it was “simply not true” the body has been biased in this case and it was “inappropriate” to make that allegation.
Mulcahy said Vaughan and his legal team had gone to “ridiculous lengths” to “unfairly throw mud at the ECB” in their questioning of the investigation.
She said it is “inherently probable” Vaughan made the alleged comment to Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Ajmal Shahzad on 22 June 2009. Vaughan has repeatedly denied the allegation.
England spinner Rashid and former Pakistan bowler Naved-ul-Hasan have corroborated Rafiq’s claim.
The fourth player in the group, former England bowler Shahzad, has said he has no recollection of it happening.
Stoner said there were “inconsistencies” in the the case and Rafiq’s allegation, adding that “due process” was “sent on holiday” by the ECB.
“This was prosecution from the outset,” said Stoner, who argued it was “inherently improbable” Vaughan made the alleged comment.
The CDC panel, chaired by Tim O’Gorman, will attempt to deliver their written judgements in the case of Vaughan and all the other respondents by the end of March.
The hearing at the International Arbitration Centre continues until Thursday but the rest will be conducted in private.
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Vaughan livelihood ‘at stake’
Stoner said the case is “so critical” to Vaughan because “the shape of his life and his livelihood is at stake”.
In summary, he argued that it is “inherently improbable” Vaughan said it given the “frailty” of human recollection, the presence of a Sky cameraman close to the huddle where it allegedly occurred, and that it “was not spoken about for 11 years after”.
Rafiq first made the claim without naming Vaughan in a Wisden article in 2020, although he said he did discuss it with others in intervening years.
In her closing submissions, Mulcahy again referred to historic tweets sent by Vaughan, which he apologised for and called “disgusting” under cross-examination on Friday.
She said the tweets, two of which were sent in 2010, are “central to this case” and show it is “inherently probable” Vaughan made the alleged comment, noting he did not admit they were wrong until they were first brought to his attention in a 2021 BBC interview.
Mulcahy addressed the discrepancies in Rafiq’s evidence, whereby he alternatively claimed Vaughan said “we need to do something about it” rather than “we need to have a word about that” in an interview with law firm Squire Patton Boggs during the initial investigation.
She said there is “so little” between the two phrases “it doesn’t show any inconsistency” and insisted the ECB only needs to persuade the panel that Vaughan said the “racist element” of the alleged phrase – “there’s too many of you lot”.
However, Stoner said words are “important” and called this discrepancy one of several “red flags” in Rafiq’s evidence.
Mulcahy said a claim by former Yorkshire head of human resources Liz Neto that Rashid had been “pressured” into corroborating Rafiq’s allegation should be “discounted” and there was “no suggestion they have lied or conspired together”.
Stoner countered this is “powerful and important evidence” and Rashid’s evidence, given via video link from Bangladesh on Thursday, cannot be given any weight.
Stoner accused the ECB of initially withholding a transcript of an interview with Shahzad as an “affront to fairness” and “evidence of actual bias” on behalf of the ECB.
He criticised the ECB for not speaking to all of the other Yorkshire players taking part in the match, the Sky cameraman and the umpires.
Mulcahy noted Vaughan’s team had not applied to the panel to compel Shahzad to give evidence or sought to interview the cameraman and umpires, accusing them of “cherry-picking” and making “mere conjecture”.