Michael Vaughan: Former England captain steps back from work at BBC

Michael Vaughan
Michael Vaughan played for Yorkshire from 1993 to 2009

Former England captain Michael Vaughan is stepping back from his work at the BBC amid the “ongoing dialogue” around the Yorkshire racism investigation.

On Monday a joint letter by two groups of BBC staff raised concerns about the 47 year-old’s continued involvement in the broadcaster’s cricket coverage.

Vaughan was named in Yorkshire’s report into Azeem Rafiq’s claims of racism.

He has denied an allegation that he made a racist comment to a group of Asian players.

Vaughan was not involved in the BBC’s coverage of the Ashes in Australia over the winter, but returned to commentary in March.

The news of the ECB charges came before England played New Zealand at Headingley in the third Test – the first international game held at the ground since the scandal.

On Monday, the BBC said it acknowledged staff had raised concerns in an open letter contesting Vaughan’s reinstatement at the corporation.

The letter was sent to staff by groups representing Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues.

“It is always regrettable when commentary on matters off the field takes the focus away from what’s happening on the field. In view of the ongoing dialogue on the subject, I have taken the decision to step back from my work for the BBC for the time being,” Vaughan said in a statement.

“The key driver for this is my concern for the wellbeing of my family members and my wish to protect their family life. Stepping back temporarily is also in the interests of the game and I hope that it will minimize any difficulties for my work colleagues. “

In a statement, the BBC said: “Following conversations with Michael Vaughan we’ve accepted his decision to step away from our cricket coverage. This is a decision we respect and understand. Michael remains under contract to the BBC.”

Last November Rafiq told MPs about his experiences at Yorkshire and said that English cricket was “institutionally” racist.

Since then 16 members of staff have left Yorkshire in a widespread overhaul.

The club’s handling of the scandal also led to a raft of resignations, with chief executive Mark Arthur and chairman Roger Hutton leaving their posts, and the ECB stripping Headingley of the internationals it was due to host – the club’s right to host England matches has since been reinstated.

Commenting on its charges earlier this month, the ECB said it had carried out a “thorough and complex” investigation. The governing body expects hearings to take place in September or October and for the outcome of each case to be published after decisions are reached.

It said the charges arose from alleged breaches of a directive regarding “conduct which is improper or which may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket or which may bring the ECB, the game of cricket or any cricketer into disrepute”, and the ECB’s anti- discrimination code.

The ECB has not commented on the specific details of the charges.

Rafiq alleged Vaughan said “too many of you lot, we need to do something about it” to him and three other Asian players during a match for Yorkshire in 2009.

Rafiq’s account was supported by former Pakistan bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and England leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who said they heard the comment.

The fourth player in the group – bowler Ajmal Shahzad – previously told the Daily Mail he had no recollection of the event and “the senior guys were really good to me”.

Vaughan has said previously that he did not remember the incident or recognize the words it is claimed he used.

“I just remember it clearly that I was proud as punch that we had four Asian players representing Yorkshire County Cricket Club,” he said.

In an interview with the BBC in November he said he was “sorry for all the hurt” Rafiq had gone through.

Vaughan captained England in Tests between 2003 and 2008. He played his entire domestic career at Yorkshire – between 1993 and 2009 – before becoming a summariser on BBC Test Match Special.

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