The England and Wales Cricket board conducted a “woefully inadequate investigation” into Michael Vaughan that displayed “actual bias” and was “an affront to fairness”, the final day of the Yorkshire racism hearing was told.
In his closing submission the former England captain’s legal counsel, Christopher Stoner KC, questioned why the ECB had initially withheld a statement from Ajmal Shahzad that backed Vaughan’s claims that he had never uttered the phrase “there are too many of you lot” to four Asian players before a Twenty20 game in 2009.
Stoner also raised concerns to the Cricket Discipline Commission that the ECB had not spoken to the umpires, cameramen or many of the players at the game before charging Vaughan.
“The investigation in this case was woefully inadequate,” he said. “Due process matters and it is the cornerstone of law. But in our submission it was sent on holiday by the ECB. It raises a real question of fairness, which Mr Vaughan has not been afforded.
“Given the nature of the allegation, the minimum requirement for any fair‑minded investigation was to speak to everyone involved. Instead there was a prosecution from the outset,” added Stoner, who said it amounted to “evidence of actual bias”.
Stoner also questioned why Vaughan would ever have used such a phrase when a Sky TV cameraman was next to the Yorkshire team’s huddle. “It is inherently improbable that such serious and unacceptable words were spoken to teammates just as a game was starting, in the presence of a cameraman and almost certainly a microphone,” he said. “And were then not spoken about for a period of 11 years between any of those involved.”
Concluding his case, Stoner told the panel that the case was of considerable importance to Vaughan, adding that “the shape of his life and livelihood are at stake”.
However Jane Mulcahy KC, counsel for the ECB, said Vaughan’s insistence that he had never heard the P-word during an era where Yorkshire have already admitted systemic racism raised doubts about his credibility.
“Matthew Hoggard had admitted to using the words ‘Paki’ and ‘token Black man’ and the phrase ‘you lot’,” she said. “While Gary Ballance had admitted to using a number of discriminatory words, including ‘Paki’ to Azeem Rafiq on numerous occasions.
“Mr Vaughan played in 35 games for Yorkshire in the 2008 and 2009 seasons, 17 of which he played with Mr Hoggard, yet claimed not to have heard any use of the word ‘Paki’. His response was simply not credible, and therefore undermines his credibility generally.”
Mulcahy also alleged that three tweets, sent by Vaughan in 2010 and 2017 which he has since admitted were unacceptable, were indicative of a general pattern. “If a person has a tendency to make racist comments, they have a tendency to make racist comments,” she said.
Mulcahy also told the hearing that Vaughan had been charged on “credible evidence” from Rafiq, corroborated by Adil Rashid and supported by Naved-ul-Hasan, adding there is “no suggestion they have lied or conspired together”. And she denied claims that the ECB had been biased, telling the hearing the claims were “very inappropriate”.
Vaughan is charged with a violation of ECB directive 3.3, related to improper conduct, along with five other players – Hoggard, Tim Bresnan, John Blain, Andrew Gale and Rich Pyrah – who have had charges heard against them in their absence. Tim O’Gorman, chair of the three‑person panel, told the court he hoped to announce a written verdict in the next three weeks.
“These are judgments that need careful consideration,” he said. “We hope to have them by the end of the month. However I hope you understand the panel has considerable professional commitments.”