Former England captain Michael Vaughan has been cleared of using racist or discriminatory language towards a group of players, including Azeem Rafiq, after a hearing in London.
Vaughan was charged by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) with making a racist comment towards Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Ajmal Shahzad and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan before a Yorkshire game in 2009.
It was alleged that the 48-year-old, who led England in 51 Tests, said to the quartet, who are of Asian ethnicity: “There’s too many of you lot, we need to have a word about that.”
Vaughan, who had denied making the comment, announced on social media that he has now been cleared of the charge by the Cricket Discipline Committee (CDC) panel.
On Twitter, Vaughan posted a statement urging people not to overlook the problem of racism in cricket despite the outcome: “It has been both difficult and upsetting to hear about the painful experiences which Azeem has described over the past three years,” he wrote.
“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.
“As with others who have spoken about their time at Yorkshire, I can only speak of my own experiences and of my own time there. The dismissal of the specific charge that concerned me takes nothing away from Azeem’s own lived experiences.
“The hearing made public that Azeem and I met eighteen months ago, well before the CDC proceedings came into existence. I told him then that I am sorry for his unacceptable, negative experiences at the club I love and in the sport I love. We had what I thought was a really positive and constructive discussion. We shook hands with a shared intention to work together in order to create positive change in cricket.
“For my part, nothing has altered in that respect. There is still a job to do and I remain keen to help bring about positive change in any way that I can. Cricket has been my life.”
Vaughan also heavily criticised the CDC proceedings and the process that forced former teammates to be pitted against one another.
“Particularly with an issue such as this, CDC proceedings were an inappropriate, inadequate and backwards step,” added Vaughan. “One of many reasons why I hold that view is because CDC proceedings are adversarial. They invite claim and counterclaim.
“They invite those involved to accuse each other of untruths or of lying. The inevitable consequence of the ECB’s decision-making was that 3 former teammates, one of whom is a current England international player, were pitted against one another in what later became a public forum for the world at large to see.
“Despite being criticised by the ECB for not accusing others of lying, I remain of the view that no good can come of that approach. There are no winners in this process and there are better ways – there have to be better ways – for cricket to move forward positively and effectively.
“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.”
Nine former Yorkshire players were charged at a CDC hearing in connection with Rafiq’s allegations that he had been racially abused at the county, with Vaughan the only player to contest his charge in person.
Yorkshire had admitted four charges in the case ahead of the hearing, while former England batter Gary Ballance also admitted his charge of using a racial slur towards Rafiq.
Fellow former players Andrew Gale, Richard Pyrah, Matthew Hoggard, John Blain and Tim Bresnan did not appear at the hearing but denied wrongdoing.