It was a performance of astonishing bravura. Two days after he was convicted of punching Margaret Moore 20 times, Geoff Boycott marched into the Wapping headquarters of Rupert Murdoch's newspaper empire and defended his honour before a crowd of reporters baying for his blood.
He had not come for a slanging match with Ms Moore, he said, pausing to tell one journalist to "shut up". He simply wanted to tell "the truth", which was that she pestered him to marry her during their five-year relationship and later demanded large sums of money.
Fixing the television cameras with his piercing blue eyes, Boycott, 57, declared that he had "never touched" Ms Moore. There had been a tussle in the hotel room in Antibes after she threatened to throw herself out of the window, during which they slipped and his left elbow "caught" the right side of her head.
How was it, then, that she was left with severe bruising on her face, he was asked. It was not a question that the Greatest Living Yorkshireman appeared able to answer.
These was a surreal air about the circumstances in which he chose to answer the charges. Some might have thought a court of law more appropriate than a press conference hosted by the Sun newspaper, with which Boycott has a contract. But he did not bother turning up at the French court on Tuesday. His lawyers had advised him that the case would be adjourned, he said.
In carefully modulated tones, betraying just a hint of wounded dignity, he described the "incident" in the hotel. He had decided to check out early, he said, because he was "sick and tired of telling her that I'm not the marrying kind".
Ms Moore, 45, then "went absolutely berserk", throwing his suits out of the bedroom window. "When I went to restrain her, she started hitting and kicking me. I grappled; we slipped."
Boycott, who brushed off questions not to his taste, said she had "no bruises whatsoever" that day. "That night we sat up late drinking champagne with Billy Joel, the singer. That does not sound to me like a woman who is seriously hurt. If she was in fear of her life, as she has said, how come we spent the next two nights together and went home on the same plane together to London?"
So what on earth was Ms Moore's motivation? "She wants to destroy me," replied Boycott, adding that she had tried to enlist publicist Max Clifford to secure her pounds 1m. And, in case anyone remained sceptical, Boycott proclaimed himself ready to take a lie detector test - but only if ordered to by the French court, which is to hear his appeal.
It was all utterly convincing, or not, as the case might be.Reuse content