Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan has apologised “for the hurt” that whistleblower Azeem Rafiq experienced but he again denied making racist comments while at county club Yorkshire.
Vaughan also apologised for a series of offensive historic tweets, including one questioning the lack of English speakers in London and another suggesting that England spinner Moeen Ali should ask random Muslims if they are terrorists.
Rafiq’s revelations about the racism and bullying he suffered at Yorkshire has sparked a crisis in the English game, and his accusation about Vaughan prompted the BBC to drop the former skipper from its coverage of the upcoming Ashes series against Australia.
Vaughan and Rafiq were teammates at Yorkshire when Vaughan allegedly told a group of players of Asian ethnicity in 2009: “There are too many of you lot; we need to do something about it.”
In a BBC interview shown on Saturday, Vaughan was asked if he ever made any racist comments during his time at Yorkshire. He replied: “No I didn’t, no.”
Rafiq, a former England under-19 captain, recently testified at a parliamentary hearing about the racism he suffered while playing at Yorkshire, describing “inhuman” treatment, with Vaughan and others implicated in the case.
“I’m sorry for the hurt that he’s gone through,” Vaughan told the BBC.
“Time, I don’t think, can ever be a healer in the situation that he’s gone through.
“But hopefully time can be a way of us making sure that Yorkshire County Cricket Club never goes through this situation again and never puts themselves in a position of denial that they treated a player so badly.
“It hurts deeply, hurts me that a player has gone through so much (and) be treated so badly at the club that I love.
“I have to take some responsibility for that because I played for Yorkshire County Cricket Club for 18 years and if in any way shape or form I’m responsible for any of his hurt, I apologise for that.”
The England and Wales Cricket Board on Friday released its comprehensive plan to address issues raised by Rafiq. It includes the creation of an anti-discrimination unit and a review of dressing-room culture.
Rafiq’s accusation about Vaughan was supported by former Pakistan bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and England legspinner Adil Rashid, who said they heard the comment.
Of his historic tweets, Vaughan added: “I apologise deeply to anyone that I’ve offended with those.
“Times have moved on and I regret those tweets. We all make mistakes and in my life I’ve made quite a few mistakes on Twitter. I apologise for that.”