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  1. ITV Report

Geoffrey Boycott 'couldn't give a toss' about knighthood criticism

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen

Geoffrey Boycott said he does not "give a toss" about Women's Aid's criticism of his knighthood.

Theresa May’s resignation honours list has drawn a heated reaction from some quarters, with critics rounding on her choice to reward civil servants who worked on her failed Brexit strategies, and others targeting the knighthood of former cricketer Boycott.

Domestic abuse charities have attacked the former prime minister over her decision to give the former England cricket star a knighthood, after he was convicted in France in 1998 of beating his then girlfriend Margaret Moore in a French Riviera hotel.

Labour has called for his knighthood to be rescinded.

Boycott was fined £5,000 and given a three-month suspended jail sentence, but has always denied the charge.

The co-acting chief executive of Women's Aid said his award was "very disappointing".

But in response to Adina Claire, Boycott 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 prime ministers resign, they can nominate people for honours. Credit: PA

Despite his conviction, Sir Geoffrey has always denied assaulting Ms Moore, accusing her of putting a "stain on my name" and maintaining her injuries were sustained in an accidental fall.

At his trial, public prosecutor Jean-Yves Duval rejected that claim, saying the injuries were "absolutely incompatible" with an accident.

The former prime minister's decisions were made all the more controversial after her comments on David Cameron's honours list, which she suggested made her "retch".

She said at the time she woul not intervene in the official process of approving her predecessor's list because it would "set a very bad precedent".

Boris Johnson has refused to be drawn on Mrs May's honours list despite calls for his knighthood to be stripped, saying it is "entirely up to her".

He said: "A lot of people work very hard in this country, very selflessly, and it is important that they should be rewarded. That is why we have an honours system.

"But that particular list - definitely, matter for her."

Women's Aid's Ms Claire had 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, who is a convicted perpetrator of domestic abuse."

Longtime Labour MP Harriet Harman said she hoped there could be a "review process" before the Queen's sword is played on Boycott's shoulders.

Describing herself as "baffled" when she heard the news, she told ITV News: "This is an honour bestowed by Theresa May and she has campaigned against the horror of domestic violence.

"She has even brought a bill forward to tackle domestic violence. So to give an honour to somebody who is convicted of blacking the eyes and bruising the face of their girlfriend, I'm very surprised and baffled how this could have happened."

She added Mrs May would not want her legacy and her commitment to domestic violence to be tarnished by the "ill-judged move".

There are calls for Geoffrey Boycott's knighthood to be revoked. Credit: PA

Shadow minister for women and equalities Dawn Butler branded the move an "insult to victims of domestic violence".

"Honouring a perpetrator of domestic violence just because he is the former prime minister's favourite sportsman shows how out of touch and nepotistic the honours list is," she said, before calling on Boris Johnson to revoke the knighthood.

Shadow policing minister Louise Haigh, the MP for Sheffield Heeley, tweeted that Sir Geoffrey was "an embarrassment to Yorkshire".

Yorkshire-born former Spice Girl Melanie Brown, who accused her ex-husband Stephen Belafonte of abuse during court proceedings in the US, also described the former cricketer as "a disgrace to Yorkshire".

MP for Sheffield Heeley, Louise Haigh, also hit out at Geoffrey Boycott. Credit: PA

Mrs May introduced the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill earlier this year, but it failed to make it through Parliament before prorogation so will have be reintroduced when MPs return from their extended break.

Ms Clair’s reservations were also not shared by the Tory-friendly Daily Telegraph.

“Mrs May showed many of the Yorkshire batsman’s legendary qualities of resilience during her time in office,” the paper said in an editorial.

“This is one of her better decisions.”

Mrs May also gave honours to her aides and donors to the Tory party, drawing scorn from critics.

Olly Robbins' inclusion has drawn criticism. Credit: PA

Among those recognised by Mrs May were her chief Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins, who received a knighthood, Commander of the British Empire (CBE) awards bestowed on her former joint chiefs of staff Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, the so-called “terror twins” of her Brexit saga, and to former chief whip Julian Smith.

“No shame,” blasted the front page of the left-leaning Daily Mirror newspaper.

“As Parliament is suspended over Brexit crisis, Theresa May has the audacity to reward the bungling advisers who got us in this mess.”

“As Chief Whip he (Smith) failed to persuade enough Tories to back the Withdrawal Agreement, thus triggering two Brexit delays and plunging nation into current crisis,” the paper said.

The Daily Mirror accused Mrs May of having 'no shame'. Credit: Twitter/Daily Mirror

Meanwhile, SNP MP Pete Wishart labelled the honours list “a disgrace”.

“The rotten news that Theresa May has been handing out peerages like sweeties to the same Tory advisers who got us into this Brexit mess is the worst kind of cronyism, and demonstrates everything wrong with the broken Westminster system,” Mr Wishart said in a statement.

“It is a disgrace that the Tories are able to give away jobs for the boys, and make their cronies and donors legislators for life – with no democratic mandate or accountability to the people of Scotland and the UK.”

Ex-PM Theresa May’s chiefs of staff Nick Timothy was included on the list. Credit: PA

In other appointments, Sir Kim Darroch, who was forced to resign as ambassador to the United States after falling out with the Trump administration, is made a life peer.

He will sit as a non-party crossbencher.

Tory Party treasurer Ehud Sheleg, who has donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to Conservative coffers, receives a knighthood.

Gavin Barwell – who succeeded Mr Timothy and Ms Hill as her chief of staff – becomes a life peer while David Lidington, seen as her de facto deputy, and ex-Number 10 communications chief Robbie Gibb are knighted.

Sir Kim Darroch was made a life peer. Credit: PA

Another close ally, the former trade minister George Hollingbery – who served as Mrs May’s parliamentary private secretary in both Downing Street and the Home Office – receives a knighthood.

Mrs May’s former political secretary Stephen Parkinson and special advisers Joanna Penn and Elizabeth Sanderson are to become life peers.

There are CBEs for the former Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis, No 10 political aides Paul Harrison and Kirsty Buchanan, as well as Mrs May’s official spokesman, James Slack, who continues in the same role with Mr Johnson.

The former joint acting chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 committee Charles Walker is knighted while ex-party chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin is upgraded to a Companion of Honour.

Former Conservative Party chair Brandon Lewis received a CBE. Credit: PA

Jeremy Corbyn has nominated three new Labour life peers – ex-National Union of Teachers general secretary Christine Blower, Newport City Council leader Debbie Wilcox, and the employment rights lawyer John Hendy QC.

MP John Mann, who announced at the weekend he was quitting Labour to become a government anti-Semitism “tsar” has been nominated for for a non-affiliated life peerage while the Green Party have nominated former leader Natalie Bennett for a peerage.

In other appointments, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick becomes a dame while Lady Justice Hallett, the vice president of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division becomes a life peer.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick becomes a Dame. Credit: PA

Sir Simon Woolley, the founder of operation Black Vote, and Ruth Hunt, the ex-chief executive of Stonewall, are made crossbench life peers.

A source close to Mrs May said: “This list recognises the many different people who have made a significant contribution to public life during Theresa May’s political career.

“It includes not only political colleagues but members of the civil service, civic society, the NHS and the sporting world.

"It also recognises people from all four nations of the United Kingdom.”

The Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler, said May’s list was “substantially smaller” than those drawn up by predecessors, helping to reduce the size of the House of Lords.

  • More on the list of honours

KBE / DBE (Knight/Dame, Order of the British Empire)

  • Cressida Dick
  • Charles Walker MP
  • Geoffrey Boycott
  • Ashley Fox
  • Robbie Gibb
  • Andrew Strauss
  • Ehud Sheleg

OBE

  • David Jackson Carlaw MSP
  • Ian Gallen
  • Fiona Hill
  • Richard Jackson
  • Brandon Lewis MP
  • James Marshall
  • James Slack
  • Julian Smith MP
  • Nicholas Timothy

CBE

  • Kirsty Buchanan
  • Victoria Busby
  • Keelan Carr
  • Alexander Dawson
  • Philip Dumville
  • Paul Harrison
  • Caroline Haughey QC
  • Seema Kennedy MP
  • Matilda MacAttram
  • James McLoughlin
  • Dr Deborah Milligan
  • Raoul Ruparel
  • William Vereker

MBE

  • David Beckingham
  • Clare Brunton
  • Eleanor Nicholson
  • Jennifer Sharkey

Peerages (nominated by Theresa May)

  • Gavin Barwell
  • David Brownlow
  • Stephen Parkinson
  • Joanna Penn
  • Elizabeth Sanderson

CH (Order of the Companions of Honour)

  • Sir Patrick McLoughlin MP

KCMG (Knight Commander, Order of St Michael and St George)

  • George Hollingberry MP
  • Oliver Robbins

KCB (Knight Commander, Order of the Bath)

  • David Lidington MP
  • Peter Storr

CB (Companion, Order of the Bath)

  • Peter Hill