Boycott's sticky wicket: `I didn't hit her, I didn't push her, I didn't make her fall'

GEOFFREY BOYCOTT, the cricket commentator and former England Test batsman, yesterday categorically denied beating up his girlfriend in a French hotel.

"I never hit her. I didn't push her. And I didn't cause her to fall," he told a court in Grasse on the French Riviera.

Mr Boycott, 58 today, was being allowed a second legal innings by the French judicial system. In his first innings in January he scored a duck by failing to turn up for the trial. He was convicted in his absence, fined pounds 5,000 and given a three-month suspended prison sentence.

The retrial yesterday, despite the seriousness of the charges, often bordered on the absurd. The tiny French court, besieged by the British media, wrestled gamely with "L'Affaire Boycott" - with problems of fact and terminology thrown up by cricket lore, English legal and breakfast customs and Yorkshire accents.

"I don't understand Anglo-Saxon culture. Please can you explain that [cricket] to me?" the judge, or president of the court, Dominique Haumont- Daumas, asked plaintively at one stage. "Is is true that a cricket ball is this size?" She cupped her hands in approximately the right dimensions.

"Yes," said Mr Boycott's lawyer, Jean-Luc Cardona. "And it is very hard and goes very fast, at around 80 kilometres an hour."

At another stage, Ms Haumont-Daumas asked: "What is Shredded Wheat?" Mr Boycott explained that it was breakfast cereal which he advertised. Ms Haumont-Daumas is expected to announce her judgment and any sentence next month.

Mr Boycott brought 13 witnesses. All were character or circumstantial witnesses; none was present at the Hotel du Cap in Antibes in October 1996 when he allegedly knocked down his mistress, Margaret Moore, and struck her 20 times on the head, face and chest.

Medical reports and photographs presented to the trial showed that Ms Moore had extensive bruising to her face and two black eyes. Mr Boycott, the former England opening batsman, now a cricket commentator and journalist, said that Ms Moore, 46, injured herself when she fell over while trying to throw his shoes, shirts and underpants out of the hotel window during a quarrel.

Three of his witnesses due to give evidence late last night were women who contacted him after the first trial to say they had received similar injuries in accidental falls. Others were lawyers, acquaintances and the celebrity agent, Max Clifford. In all, he has spent more than pounds 200,000 bringing his defence entourage to France.

Mr Boycott appeared in a grey-green blazer with a metal Yorkshire rose in the lapel. For two hours he sat in the back of the court, or stood in the hall-way, surrounded by other alleged wrong-doers - petty thieves, violent husbands, a man who had received a stolen motorbike and a young Arab who had made a rude arm gesture at a police officer.

At one point, an impatient Mr Boycott was overheard to say: "It's a sticky wicket. I'll have to deal with it. That's what I'm doing."

Inside the court, lawyers defending other clients complained mildly that their cases were being adjourned unnecessarily to make time for the Boycott trial. "This is not the case of the century. Why delay it?" asked one lawyers defending a petty thief.

"I can assure you that none of the cases before this court today are the case of the century," said the judge, with a meaningful look at the ranks of British journalists overspilling the tiny press box.

Eventually "Boycott, Joffrey" was called.

Before Mr Boycott gave his evidence, all the witnesses were called together and stood bunched around the cricket commentator and Ms Moore to be presented to the judge. However, when the judge called out Max Clifford's name as a witness he failed to appear. She said: "It's not such a big court, how can he get lost?"

Mr Cardona answered: "Don't forget we are dealing with Anglo Saxons." Mr Clifford then appeared.

Finally, it was Boycott's turn to bat. He confidently denied ever having struck Ms Moore and told the court how she had tried to encourage him to live in Monaco for tax reasons, and to marry her. "I told her `no marriage, no living in Monaco, because I earn my living in England, therefore I will be taxed in England, therefore it would not help me'."

He said it was in the summer of 1996, before their trip to the South of France, that their relationship began to break down. "Throughout 1996 the relationship was becoming a bit strained," he said. "The reason being Margaret Moore wanted me to marry her - I said `no'."

On 2 October, 1996, Mr Boycott said, after having lunch by the hotel pool, he became "fed up" when she again raised the issue of marriage and moving to Monaco.

He told the court how he walked away from lunch and asked the concierge at the hotel reception to book him a flight to London immediately. "I went upstairs, put the suitcase on the bed and started to pack my things to leave. I started to pack away my things - my shoes, my toilet bag and my underwear in the suitcase.

"Margaret Moore burst through the door in a rage - mad as hell, mad, angry, furious, angry."

He told the court that Ms Moore started shouting at him that if he left her she might as well end her life. "She said she might as well end it all - commit suicide, end it. I sat on the bed, I just did not know what to do, I had never been in this situation before. She then came in from off the ledge."

Asked by the judge if Ms Moore then calmed down, Mr Boycott replied: "No, she was still in a rage. She started throwing my things out of the window - toilet bag, socks and underwear."

He said she then went to the wardrobe and grabbed his suit and threatened to throw it out."I went to grab the suit to stop her throwing it out. I pulled the suit and she was pulling it and I fell backwards on my left elbow."

The commentator said Ms Moore was still angry and went to get his shoes to throw them out of the window but slipped and banged her head.

The couple stayed two more nights at the hotel, enjoying two lunches and dinners and sleeping in the same bed, he said. "We went home on the same flight, no flights were changed."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas