Marylebone Cricket Club chief backs Stephen Fry amid racism and sexism complaint

Jewish actor threatened with disciplinary action after claims he made inappropriate gags in dinner speech


Stephen Fry has been backed by his cricket club hit after he was hit with a formal complaint over alleged misogynistic and racist jokes made during a dinner at Lord’s Cricket Ground. 

Addressing the dinner in his role as Marylebone Cricket Club president, the veteran comic and actor reportedly made gags about Islamist terror and women “shagging”.

One attendee has urged MCC to take disciplinary action against the 65-year-old “Blackadder” star, slamming his alleged remarks and lack of apology as “egregious”.

However several other attendees of the north-west London event took issue with the complaint. One individual said that Mr Fry's joke regarding women’s sexual behavior was “misheard” and that the terrorism jibe was not made at all.

MCC member Chris Waterman told the Mail on Sunday that he had issued the formal complaint, claiming that Mr Fry welcomed members to the £90-a-head meal, stating: “I had intended to say ‘Good evening, ladies and gentlemen’ but there are no lady members present. I suppose they are off shagging’.”

Waterman also alleges that Fry went on to discuss the Allahakbarries, an amateur squad set up by “Peter Pan” author JM Barrie. He is alleged to have joked that “the term ‘Allahu Akbar, when used today, was usually followed by a loud bang”.

However MCC’s chief executive and secretary Guy Lavender told The Times newspaper that Waterman’s account was “factually incorrect”.

“The dinner in question was enjoyed by those that attended and we have not received any other complaint from attendees in this regard,” he continued.

Other diners' accounts, given to The Times newspaper, conflicted Mr Waterman's complaint. Sources alleged that Mr Fry opened the dinner by remarking: “I had intended to say ‘Good evening, ladies and gentlemen’ but there are no lady members present. Now we can talk about sh*gging,” in an attempt to poke fun at the high-profile sporting club’s gender imbalance. They also claimed to have not heard a joke about terrorism.

Mr Fry has already prompted backlash during his MCC presidency, being criticised for initial plans to axe the club’s historic Eton-Harrow and Varsity games. The modernising scheme was ditched after members’ expressed significant opposition. 

Mr Waterman, who previously failed in his attempts to gain election to a range of MCC committee roles, has also made divisive remarks, slamming the club’s “chumocracy” for his failed runs, and describing it as “male, pale, and stale”.

The public policy advisor has said that while no women MCC members attended the dinner in which he says Mr Fry made the alleged remarks, there were women hospitality staff present. 

“After the meal, the president called all the serving staff back into the room to thank them,” Mr Waterman wrote in his formal complaint.

“I interrupted and asked him if he would apologise for his earlier comments about women and he said, ‘No, I was referring to women members,’ and continued speaking.”

The MCC has previously made headlines for reportedly controversial jokes. Last July chairman Bruce Carnegie Brown was disciplined after being overheard joking that AGM delegates were “taking an age to empty their colostomy bags” during an extended break in proceedings.

The JC has approached Mr Fry for comment.

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