Boycott does not ‘give a toss’ about knighthood criticism

Sir Geoffrey Boycott has said he does not "give a toss" about criticism of his knighthood.

Domestic abuse campaigners have attacked ex-prime minister Theresa May's decision to honour the former England cricketer, who was convicted in France in 1998 of beating his then girlfriend in a Riviera hotel.

The co-acting chief executive of Women's Aid, Adina Claire, said the award was "very disappointing".

But Yorkshireman Sir Geoffrey, 78, told BBC Today programme presenter Martha Kearney: "I don't give a toss about her, love.

"Twenty-five years ago.

"You can take your political nature and do whatever you want with it.

"I couldn't give a toss."

He was commenting after Ms Claire said: "Celebrating a man who was convicted for assaulting his partner sends a dangerous message – that domestic abuse is not taken seriously as a crime.

"With increasing awareness of domestic abuse, and a Domestic Abuse Bill ready to be taken forward by Government, it is extremely disappointing that a knighthood has been recommended for Geoffrey Boycott, who is a convicted perpetrator of domestic abuse."

The cricketer was nominated for a knighthood for services to sport in Mrs May's resignation honours list.

The former PM introduced the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill earlier this year, but it failed to make it through Parliament before prorogation so will have be reintroduced when MPs return from their extended break.

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

Reacting to Sir Geoffrey's radio appearance, the Women's Equality Party called for a "Boycott boycott".

On the knighthood, a spokeswoman from the Woman's Trust 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, also weighed in with criticism of the decision.

Sir Geoffrey was fined £5,000 and given a three-month suspended prison sentence over the incident at the Hotel du Cap in Antibes in October 1996, which left partner Margaret Moore with 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.

At his trial, public prosecutor Jean-Yves Duval rejected that claim, 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.

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