BBC postpones return of Vaughan’s radio show amid racism allegation

The BBC has postponed the return of Radio 5 Live’s Tuffers and Vaughan Cricket Show amid ongoing turmoil in the corporation over how best to deal with a racism allegation against the expert summariser Michael Vaughan.

The programme was initially pulled for one episode after Vaughan was accused of making a racist remark while playing for Yorkshire in 2009, which the former England captain has vigorously denied. However, its planned return next Monday has also been shelved, with the BBC putting Rugby Union Weekly in its 9pm slot instead.

The BBC did not respond to a request for comment but insiders say the show is now unlikely to return until next month – at the earliest – and that the question of whether Vaughan will be part of the BBC’s Ashes coverage also remains up in the air.

Vaughan, who has worked as a summariser and analyst on Test Match Special for 12 years, has been accused of telling three players of Asian descent that there were “too many of you lot, we need to do something about it” before a county match in Nottingham.

That allegation was brought up again by Azeem Rafiq in his appearance in front of MPs on Tuesday, who said Vaughan had also used a Daily Telegraph column to try to discredit him.

However, Vaughan vehemently denies the allegation and also says he has the backing of the other Yorkshire players in the match, which has made the issue particularly difficult for the BBC to resolve.

Azeem Rafiq accused Michael Vaughan of a racially insensitive comment during his testimony before a select committee
Azeem Rafiq accused Michael Vaughan of a racially insensitive comment during his testimony before a select committee. Photograph: House of Commons/AP

Meanwhile, the Sky cricket analyst David Lloyd has apologised to Rafiq after it emerged in parliament that he had sent text messages about his personality and drinking that attempted to smear the former Yorkshire player.

Rafiq said: “He rang me last night and I told him honestly what I thought about his comments, they were completely out of order. But the overriding thing was he rang, he apologised, I accepted the apology. Anyone that apologises … that’s all I ever wanted.”

News of the apology emerged after Sky had revealed it was investigating Lloyd’s texts. A Sky spokesperson told the Guardian: “Sky is committed to actively championing inclusion in cricket – and in all sports – and opposing all forms of discrimination. We will be investigating the comments attributed to David Lloyd in the select committee hearing.”

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On Tuesday night, Lloyd also issued a public apology, saying he deeply regretted his actions. “In October 2020, I had a private message exchange with a third party involved in cricket, about a number of topics,” he said.

“In these messages, I referred to allegations about Azeem Rafiq which I had heard from within the game. I also made some comments about the Asian cricket community. I deeply regret my actions, and I apologise most sincerely to Azeem and to the Asian cricket community for doing this, and for any offence caused.”