‘It was 25 years ago, love. I don’t give a toss’: Geoffrey Boycott defends himself over domestic violence conviction

‘You can take your political nature and do whatever you want with it,’ former England cricketer says

Maya Oppenheim
Women's Correspondent
Wednesday 11 September 2019 10:54 BST
'I don’t give a toss' Geoffrey Boycott defends himself over domestic violence conviction

Geoffrey Boycott has said he does not “give a toss” about a leading domestic abuse organisation’s criticism of his knighthood.

The ex-England cricketer was awarded a knighthood by Theresa May in a farewell honours list, which also rewards many of her former aides.

Domestic abuse charities condemned the decision – drawing attention to the former England cricketer’s conviction for assaulting his then-partner in 1998.

But Boycott responded with disdain to the criticism from Adina Claire, the co-acting chief executive of Women’s Aid, after presenter Martha Kearney on the Today programme asked him about the statement she issued.

He said: “I don’t give a toss about her, love.

“So you can take your political nature and do whatever you want with it. I couldn’t give a toss.”

When asked about the conviction earlier in the conversation, he said: “It was 25 years ago, love”.

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

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.”

Asked whether Boris Johnson was uncomfortable with Boycott receiving an honour, the prime minister’s official spokesperson stressed that, in line with convention, the nomination came from his predecessor and was passed on without change to the Queen for approval.

“It is from the last prime minister,” said the spokesperson. “It’s a long-standing convention that individuals can be nominated for an honour in recognition of their public and political service, and that outgoing prime ministers can draw up a resignation or dissolution list.

“It’s customary for the new prime minister to forward the outgoing prime minister’s list without amendment to the Queen for her approval.”

Labour was among those calling on Boris Johnson to rescind the knighthood, saying it was an “insult to victims and survivors of domestic violence”.

Shadow minister for women and equalities Dawn Butler said honouring Boycott just because he is the former prime minister's "favourite sportsman" shows how "out of touch and nepotistic" the honours list is.

She added: “Boris Johnson should rescind his knighthood today.”

Boycott, the former Yorkshire and England opening batsman, has also been an outspoken supporter of Brexit.

Ms May previously compared herself to Boycott who scored over 8,000 runs in Test cricket and was known for his stubborn batting style.

“One of my cricket heroes was always Geoffrey Boycott,” she said in November last year when questioned about how long she would stay in office as ministers quit in protest over her Brexit strategy.

The former PM, who resigned earlier this year after repeatedly failing to pass her Brexit deal, added: “And what did you know about Geoffrey Boycott? Geoffrey Boycott stuck to it and he got the runs in the end.”

Ms May’s former closest advisers, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, were also recognised on her 57-strong resignation honours list which was made up of predominantly political figures.

The list included members of her Downing Street staff, political aides and lifelong Conservative Party supporters – with Labour arguing the honours rewarded “big Tory donors and No 10 cronies”.

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