Stephen Fry accused of making inappropriate jokes at cricket dinner
Cricket Club disputes claims the actor made jokes mocking women and Muslims.
Stephen Fry has been accused of making jokes targeting women and Muslims at a cricket club dinner in London.
The actor and comedian was speaking as president of Marylebone Cricket Club, and the club disputes claims he made offensive jokes during his speech after one member launched an official complaint.
MCC member Chris Waterman, 75, claimed to the Mail on Sunday that the former QI host had said: "I had intended to say 'Good evening, ladies and gentlemen’ but there are no lady members present. I suppose they are off shagging'."
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He also alleged Fry referred to the Allahakbarries, an amateur cricket team founded by the Peter Pan author JM Barrie, quipping "the term 'Allahu akbar', when used today, was usually followed by a loud bang."
However, chief executive and secretary of MCC, Guy Lavender told The Times that Waterman's account “is factually incorrect”.
He added: "The dinner in question was enjoyed by those that attended and we have not received any other complaint from attendees in this regard."
Other diners at the £90-a-head event told the newspaper what Fry actually said was: "I had intended to say 'Good evening, ladies and gentlemen' but there are no lady members present. Now we can talk about shagging," to mock the underrepresentation of women in the club.
They said they had not heard the Muslim joke.
Waterman said: "The MCC is male, pale, frail and stale. I have been trying to reform it for eight years.
"After the meal, the president called all the serving staff back into the room to thank them.
"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."
Referring to the 'Allahu akbar' joke Waterman added: "I am unsure whether there were any Muslims in the room, but even if there were not, this is not an acceptable 'joke' in 2023."
Fry, star of Blackadder and Jeeves and Wooster, became president of the Marylebone Cricket Club in 2022.
He has sought to modernise the club, proposing plans to axe the famous Eton-Harrow and Oxbridge Varsity matches at Lords cricket ground. This sparked a backlash from members with over 180 signing a petition to reverse the decision.
Fry said: "It saddens me if people think there’s an element of woke-ism about that, because it’s only about opening the game up as much as possible.
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“I’m not being all woke and wet-blankety. It’s not about banning Eton and Harrow, it’s about opening it up to more schools."
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