Ex-cricketer Geoffrey Boycott deserves a knighthood even if he was convicted of beating up his girlfriend, David Cameron has suggested.
Boycott was convicted in a French court for assaulting his former partner Margaret Moore in 1998.
He denies the assault but at the time was fined £5,000 and handed a three-month jail term after Moore was left with two black eyes and bruising to her forehead.
Avid cricket fan May, who was ousted as PM over Brexit and introduced the domestic violence bill earlier this year, awarded Boycott the knighthood for services to sport earlier this year.
Cameron, who is promoting his memoirs after ‘For The Record’ after three years in the political wilderness following the Remain campaign’s defeat in the Brexit referendum, said he is a “huge fan” of Boycott’s and that May’s decision to honour him was correct.
Speaking to Nick Ferrari on LBC, he said “I’m a huge fan of Geoff Boycott’s” but admitted “I’ve never really understood what happened in France”.
Ferrari then put the previous conviction to Cameron and the ex-PM replied: “Yeah. Well, I’d need to look in, in more detail. But, look, I think he was a great England cricketer and it’s right that’s recognised.”
He went on: “I think great sportsman deserve, particularly when they’ve gone on and put a lot back into the sport and encouraging young people and all those things. Boycott used to write me letters on a regular basis actually.”
Cameron went on to to say he felt it was “an honour” meeting Boycott.
He said: “Well, often, it was, sort of, you know, being Prime Minister’s a bit like having a long innings, you’ve got to, there was some, there were great metaphors there and it was an honour meeting him.”
Adina Claire, the co-acting chief executive of Women’s Aid, has described his knighthood as “extremely disappointing”.
She 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.”
When asked about Claire’s comments, Boycott controversially replied: “I don’t care a toss about her, love. It was 25 years ago.”
Boycott has always maintained Moore’s injuries were sustained in an accidental fall.
At his trial, however, public prosecutor Jean-Yves Duval rejected this claim, saying the injuries were “absolutely incompatible” with an accident.
The row comes as reports of killing related to domestic violence hit a five-year high in the UK.
Data obtained by the BBC from 43 police forces across the UK reveal that 173 people died in domestic violence-related homicides last year.
The statistics, reported last week, showed there were 165 domestic killings in 2014, 160 in 2015, 139 in 2016 and 141 in 2017.
Retired French judge who convicted Sir Geoffrey, Dominique Haumant, has also spoken out about Boycott’s conviction.
He told the Guardian earlier this month: “I remember (Boycott’s case) very well and I remember the row about it even after 20 years.
“I saw all the photos, the evidence, the statements and if I didn’t think he was guilty I wouldn’t have convicted him.”