The decision to knight Geoffrey Boycott has been condemned in light of the former England cricket captain’s assault conviction.
The 78-year-old, who is also a cricket broadcaster, has been included in Theresa May’s resignation honours for his service to sport, a move which drew the ire of Adina Claire, the co-acting chief executive of the charity Women’s Aid.
Boycott has been overlooked for a knighthood since a domestic violence conviction in 1998.
He was found guilty of beating his then girlfriend Margaret Moore, although has always proclaimed his innocence.
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.”
Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, added: “It is astonishing and hypocritical that Theresa May introduced the Domestic Abuse Bill as her last-ditch attempt at a domestic legacy while also approving a knighthood for a man convicted of domestic abuse . . . It is clear that the political establishment does not care about the scourge of violence against women.”
When asked today about why it had taken so long to receive the honour during an appearance on the BBC’s Today programme, Boycott implied his conviction was part of his decision to back Brexit. He said: “A court case in France is one of the reasons I didn’t vote to remain in Europe.”
When pressed on the matter, he added: "I don't give a toss about her love, it was 25 years ago.”
He added: "It's very difficult to prove your innocence in another country, in another language.
"I have to live with it - and I do. I'm clear in my mind, and I think most people in England are, that it's not true."
The incident happened in the south of France in 1996. Boycott was handed a three-month suspended sentence.
During the trial, the court heard that Boycott pinned Moore down, punched her 20 times and then checked out of the hotel. Boycott’s defence was that Moore had slipped after becoming angry that he wouldn’t marry her.
After the conviction, Boycott was dropped from his role as commentator by both the BBC and Sky, but was reinstated soon after and has become a regular part of the BBC’s Test Match Special Commentary team ever since.
In 2017 Boycott was forced to apologise after claiming he had been overlooked for honours because he was white. When asked about not yet having been awarded a knighthood he replied: “Mine’s been turned down twice. I’d better black me face.” Adding that they’d been given out to West Indian cricketers “like confetti”.
Earlier this year, a journalist asked former Prime Minister May “how many wickets would fall in her cabinet before she resigned as captain”, in reference to cabinet members who were resigning from her government at the time.
May replied: “One of my cricket heroes was always Geoffrey Boycott. [He] stuck to it and he got the runs in the end.”
A well-known cricket fan, she was also photographed watching England play at Lord’s on her first day as a backbencher after resigning as from office.
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