Theresa May criticised for Geoffrey Boycott knighthood despite assault on girlfriend

10 September 2019, 01:13

Mr Boycott received a suspended sentence for the 1998 assault
Mr Boycott received a suspended sentence for the 1998 assault. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Theresa May has been criticised for handing former England cricketer Geoffrey Boycott a knighthood after he was convicted of assaulting his partner in 1998.

Domestic abuse charities said honouring Mr Boycott, who was handed a suspended sentence for the attack, sent a “dangerous message.”

The former Test opener, 78, was convicted of beating his then girlfriend Margaret Moore in a French Riviera hotel 20 years ago.

Mrs May, who introduced a landmark Domestic Abuse Bill to Parliament earlier this year, gave Mr Boycott a knighthood for services to sport in her resignation honours list.

Mr Boycott, who has always denied the assault, was fined £5,000 and given a three-month suspended prison sentence over the attack.

Adina Claire, co-acting chief executive of Women's Aid, 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.

Mrs May was criticised for the move by domestic abuse charities
Mrs May was criticised for the move by domestic abuse charities. Picture: PA

"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."

A spokeswoman from the Woman's Trust added: "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."

Ms Moore suffered bruising to her forehead and blackened eyes in the assault at the Hotel du Cap in Antibes in October 1996.

Mr Boycott has accused her of putting a "stain on my name" and maintained her injuries were sustained through an accidental slip and fall.

But public prosecutor Jean-Yves Duval rejected Boycott's claims, saying the injuries were "absolutely incompatible" with an accident and that the cricketer's lawyer Jean-Luc Cardona did not stand up to examination.

Before she left Number 10 earlier this year, Mrs May introduced the Domestic Abuse Bill, which 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 past year, according to Office for National Statistics figures from November 2018.