Ex-England cricketer Geoffrey Boycott has said he “couldn’t give a toss” about criticism from domestic abuse charities over his knighthood.
Former prime minister Theresa May named Boycott in her farewell honours list.
She has been accused of cronyism over the slew of ex-aides she has honoured – and Boycott’s award has caused fury among women’s rights campaigners, who cite his conviction for assaulting a girlfriend in 1998.
But when asked about the incident on Radio 4 this morning, he told presenter Martha Kearney: “Twenty-five years ago, love, in a French court.”
He went on: “It’s a court case in France where you’re guilty, which is one reason I don’t vote to remain in the EU.
“You’re guilty until you’re proved innocent in another country, another language. Most people don’t believe it. I didn’t do it – move on.”
Among those criticising the award was Adina Claire, co-acting chief executive of Women’s Aid, who 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.”
Responding to Ms Adina’s words, Boycott said: “I don’t care a toss about her, love.
“It was 25 years ago so you can take your political nature and do whatever you want with it. I couldn’t give a toss.”
Boycott, who has always denied the assault, was fined £5,000 and given a three-month suspended prison sentence over the attack.
In 2017, he apologised for reportedly saying “I’d better black me face” to get a knighthood as they were handed out “like confetti” to West Indian greats such as Sir Viv Richards and Sir Garfield Sobers.
Mrs May’s list also contains honours for many of those who worked with her in Downing Street.
Her controversial former joint chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill – who were forced to quit No 10 in the wake of the Tories losing their majority in the 2017 general election – are made CBEs.
Olly Robbins, who led negotiations with the EU and is blamed by many Tory MPs for her three-times-rejected Brexit deal, receives a knighthood, as does former Tory Director of Communications Robbie Gibb.
There are peerages for her Tory special advisers such as Gavin Barwell, Joanna Penn, Stephen Parkinson, Liz Sanderson, and Tory vice-chairman David Brownlow.
Opposition parties were quick to criticise Mrs May’s choices.
Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Pete Wishart accused her of “handing out peerages like sweeties – to the same Tory advisers who got us into this Brexit mess”, calling it “the worst kind of cronyism”.
He added: “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”.
Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery said: “It comes as no surprise that big Tory donors and Number 10 cronies are being honoured yet again.
“The Tories only care about looking after their own and will only stand up for the wealthy few who fund them.”
Ben Howlett, a Conservative MP until 2017, said “it is deeply galling that so many have been rewarded for so much failure”.
He said: “At a time when MPs are having to decide between national interest and party, it is astonishing that the previous Downing Street has decided to reward so many for putting party first.
The Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler, defended Mrs May’s list, saying it was “substantially smaller” than previous editions.
Mrs May’s predecessor, David Cameron, was criticised for handing out 46 knighthoods and honours, as well as 13 peerages, to his aides, donors, political allies – and even his wife’s stylist – when he stood down three years ago.
That prompted Mrs May to say soon after taking office that honours should go to people who “really contribute”, in what was widely seen as a thinly veiled attack on him.
Former England cricket captain Andrew Strauss is knighted for services to sport, while 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.
The full list of honours and peerages:
CH (Order Of The Companions Of Honour)
- The Rt Hon Sir Patrick McLoughlin MP, for political and public service
KCMG (Knight Commander, Order Of St Michael And St George)
- George Hollingbery MP, for political and public service
- Oliver Robbins CB, for public service
KCB (Knight Commander, Order Of The Bath)
- The Rt Hon David Lidington CBE MP, for political and public service
- Peter Storr CB, for public service
KBE/DBE (Knight/dame, Order Of The British Empire)
- Cressida Dick CBE QPM, for public service
- Charles Walker OBE MP, for political and public service
- Geoffrey Boycott OBE, for services to sport
- Ashley Fox, for political and public service
- Robbie Gibb, for political and public service
- Andrew Strauss OBE, for services to sport
- Ehud Sheleg, for political and public service
CB (Companion, Order Of The Bath)
- Peter Hill, for public service
- (David) Jackson Carlaw MSP, for political and public service
- Ian Gallen, for services to public health
- Fiona Hill, for political and public service
- Richard Jackson MBE, for political and public service
- The Rt Hon Brandon Lewis MP, for political and public service
- James Marshall, for political and public service
- James Slack, for public service
- The Rt Hon Julian Smith MP, for political and public service
- Nicholas Timothy. for political and public service
- Kirsty Buchanan, for political and public service
- Victoria Busby, for public service
- Keelan Carr, for political and public service
- Alexander Dawson, for political and public service
- Philip Dumville, for political and public service
- Paul Harrison, for political and public service
- The Hon Caroline Haughey QC, for public service
- Seema Kennedy MP, for political and public service
- Matilda Macattram, for services to mental health
- James McLoughlin, for political and public service
- Dr Deborah Milligan, for services to public health
- Raoul Ruparel, for political and public service
- William Vereker, for political and public service
- David Beckingham, for political and public service.
- Clare Brunton, for public service
- Eleanor Nicholson, for public service
- Jennifer Sharkey, for political and public service
- Graham Howarth, for public service
- Debra Wheatley, for public service
- The Rt Hon Gavin Barwell
- David Brownlow Cvo Dl
- Stephen Parkinson
- Joanna Penn
- Elizabeth Sanderson
- Sir Simon Woolley
- Ruth Hunt
- Zameer Choudrey Cbe
- (Henry) Byron Davies
- Raminder Ranger Cbe
- Christine Blower
- John Hendy Qc
- Councillor Debbie Wilcox
- Natalie Bennett
- John Mann Mp
- Margaret Ritchie
- Harold Carter Cb
- The Rt Hon Lady Justice Hallett
- Sir (Nigel) Kim Darroch KCMG