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Michael Vaughan cleared of racism charge by ECB disciplinary committee

CDC decision finds case against Vaughan not proved "on balance of probabilities"

Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, has been cleared by the ECB's Cricket Discipline Committee (CDC) of bringing the game into disrepute over the alleged use of racist and/or discriminatory language before a Yorkshire match in 2009.
The case against Vaughan and five other former Yorkshire players was heard earlier this month, with the CDC verdict announced on Friday morning. However, Vaughan took to Instagram in advance to reveal that the charges against him had been dismissed.
He wrote: "Now that the ECB's charge against me has been dismissed, I want to thank the panel for their careful attention in very difficult circumstances and to thank all of those who have given me their support during an incredibly difficult period in my life."
The news marks the latest juncture in a lengthy and divisive process first brought about by Azeem Rafiq's accusations of institutional racism at Yorkshire more than two-and-a-half years ago.
In the CDC's verdict, an 82-page document released at 10.30am, the panel said that the ECB's contention that Vaughan made the comment "There's too many of you lot, we need to do something about that" in earshot of four Yorkshire players of Asian heritage before a T20 fixture at Trent Bridge had not been proven "on the balance of probabilities".
However, the CDC found five other defendants - former England internationals Matthew Hoggard and Tim Bresnan, former Scotland seamer John Blain, and two former Yorkshire players-turned-coaches, Andrew Gale and Rich Pyrah - all guilty of bringing the game into disrepute.
The ECB laid charges against Yorkshire and seven of the club's former players in June last year. After prolonged wrangling, the CDC hearing was held in public earlier this month, although Vaughan was the only individual to appear in person to defend himself.
Yorkshire admitted the charges against them, as did Gary Ballance, the Zimbabwe and former England batter; but Hoggard, Bresnan, Blain, Gale and Pyrah all withdrew their cooperation from the process. Other than Hoggard, who offered a qualified admission of the charges laid against him, the others all denied the allegations outright.
Three of the four charges against Hoggard were found to be proven by the CDC panel, including allegations that he used the term "Rafa the K*****" to refer to Rafiq. Bresnan was found guilty of one charge of using racist and/or discriminatory language, specifically the term "fit P***"; Pyrah was found to have used the same phrase.
The CDC also found Gale guilty on two counts of using racist and/or discriminatory language, and Blain guilty on one.
Sanctions are due to be decided at a later date and all of the defendants have 14 days in which to lodge an appeal, with Blain telling the Telegraph that he would fight the verdict.
Although Vaughan apologised for a number of "disgusting" historical tweets, he denied ever having made the alleged comment to Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Ajmal Shahzad and Rana Naved-ul-Haq. Vaughan's lawyer also criticised the ECB's handling of the case, saying the investigation had been "wholly and woefully inadequate", and claiming Vaughan had been denied due process.
Vaughan, who stepped away from his BBC commentary role last year, had previously said that his "life and livelihood" were on the line. After being cleared, he reiterated that the "dismissal of the specific charge that concerned me takes nothing away from Azeem's own lived experiences", and committed himself to combatting racism within cricket.
However, he was critical of the ECB's disciplinary process: "Particularly with an issue such as this, CDC proceedings were an inappropriate, inadequate and backwards step. 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 three former team-mates, 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."
Rafiq released a statement after the verdicts were published, saying English cricket still needed to address the problem of racism within the game.
"Charges against seven of the eight defendants, including the widespread use of the 'P' word, have been upheld by the CDC today," Rafiq wrote. "This comes in addition to the other reports, panels and inquiries that found I and others suffered racial harassment and bullying while at Yorkshire.
"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. It's time to reflect, learn and implement change."
The ECB chair, Richard Thompson, said the investigation was the "most complex" the ECB had ever conducted, and that the need now was for a period of "reconciliation" in which the game can begin to heal its wounds.
"Given the nature of these cases, they have taken a clear toll on everyone involved. There now needs to be a time of reconciliation where, as a game, we can collectively learn and heal the wounds and ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again.
"This has been the most complex and thorough regulatory investigation and disciplinary process that the ECB has ever conducted.
"The decisions published today are the findings of an independent CDC Panel, reaching its own decisions based on the evidence before it, and it is now for the Panel to determine what sanctions are appropriate where charges have been admitted or upheld. Having only received the decisions today, we will need time to consider them carefully."