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Sir Geoffrey Boycott ‘couldn’t give a toss’ about knighthood criticism

Theresa May was roundly criticised by domestic abuse campaigners for honouring the cricketer, who was convicted of beating his girlfriend.

Geoffrey Boycott (Mike Egerton/PA)
Geoffrey Boycott (Mike Egerton/PA)

By Sam Blewett, PA Political Correspondent

Sir Geoffrey Boycott said he “couldn’t give a toss” about criticism of his knighthood, as pressure mounted for the honour to be rescinded over the cricketer’s domestic abuse conviction.

Campaigners criticised Theresa May’s decision to honour her favourite cricketer, who was convicted in France in 1998 of beating up his then girlfriend in a Riviera hotel.

A Women’s Aid chief executive, Adina Claire, said the former prime minister was sending a “dangerous message” that “domestic abuse is not taken seriously as a crime”.

But, when asked about Ms Claire’s comments on Tuesday, the Yorkshireman told BBC Today presenter Martha Kearney: “I don’t care a toss about her, love.

“It’s 25 years ago. So you can take your political nature and do whatever you want with it.

“You want to talk to me about my knighthood, it’s very nice of you to have me.

“But I couldn’t give a toss.”

The 78-year-old was commenting after Ms Claire said it was “extremely disappointing” to see the former England cricketer honoured.

“Celebrating a man who was convicted for assaulting his partner sends a dangerous message – that domestic abuse is not taken seriously as a crime,” she added.

Mrs May nominated the cricketer for a knighthood for services to sport in her resignation honours list.

But it was reported in 2015 that her previous attempt as home secretary to get him dubbed was blocked by officials because of the conviction.

The former PM had been celebrated for introducing the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill earlier this year.

The legislation failed to make it through Parliament before its suspension on Monday so will have be reintroduced when MPs return from their five-week break.

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The former cricket star was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend in 1998 (Mike Egerton/PA)

Labour was among those calling on Boris Johnson to rescind the knighthood, saying it was an “insult to victims and survivors of domestic violence”.

Shadow minister for women and equalities Dawn Butler said: “Honouring a perpetrator of domestic violence just because he is the former prime minister’s favourite sportsman shows how out of touch and nepotistic the honours list is.

“Boris Johnson should rescind his knighthood today.”

The Women’s Equality Party called for a “Boycott boycott” in reaction to Sir Geoffrey’s radio appearance.

A spokeswoman from the Woman’s Trust charity said: “It’s disappointing to see Geoffrey Boycott included in Theresa May’s honours list, given her vocal support for domestic abuse survivors and the Domestic Abuse Bill.

“While we welcome the recent Domestic Abuse Bill for its work to widen the definition of domestic abuse, the inclusion of Geoffrey Boycott in the honours list shows just how much our attitude as a society needs to change when it comes to supporting survivors.”

Yorkshire-born former Spice Girl Melanie Brown, who accused her ex-husband Stephen Belafonte of abuse during court proceedings in the US, said the cricketer was “a disgrace to Yorkshire”.

“Perpetrators of domestic abuse shouldn’t be held up as heroes ever,” she added.

Sir Geoffrey was fined £5,000 and given a three-month suspended prison sentence over the attack at the Hotel du Cap in Antibes in October 1996.

Partner Margaret Moore sustained bruising to her forehead and blackened eyes.

Despite the conviction, Sir Geoffrey has always denied assaulting Ms Moore, accusing her of putting a “stain on my name” and maintaining her injuries were sustained in an accidental fall.

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Companions of Honour. See story POLITICS Honours. Infographic PA Graphics

But public prosecutor Jean-Yves Duval rejected that claim at the trial, saying the injuries were “absolutely incompatible” with an accident.

Mrs May’s Domestic Abuse Bill includes economic, controlling and coercive non-physical abuse as part of the legal definition of the crime for the first time.

The legislation will also establish a new domestic abuse commissioner, prohibit the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in family courts, and beef up the powers available to courts to tackle perpetrators.

An estimated 1.3 million women and 695,000 men experienced domestic abuse in the previous year, according to Office for National Statistics figures released in November 2018.

PA

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