Following the news that Geoffrey Boycott has received a knighthood, Spice Girls singer Mel B has responded with some strong words about domestic violence.
Before stepping down as Prime Minister in July, Theresa May heralded the introduction of her long-awaited, landmark domestic abuse bill to parliament. It was a promising step in supporting the 1.2 million women and some 713,000 men in England and Wales who are affected by domestic abuse every year.
However, she also included a man convicted of domestic violence as part of her resignation honours list.
Cricket player Geoffrey Boycott was fined and sentenced to a three-month suspended jail sentence in a French court in 1998. He has always denied the charge of being violent towards his then girlfriend, Margaret Moore, maintaining her injuries (bruising and black eyes) were from an accidental fall.
This week, there has been an outcry of criticism, calling for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to withdraw Boycott’s knighthood.
Women’s Aid’s co-acting chief executive, Adina 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, who is a convicted perpetrator of domestic abuse.”
Boycott responded to the comment on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, saying he “couldn’t give a toss” about them.
Speaking to Martha Kearney about Claire’s statement, Boycott said: “It’s a court case in France where you’re guilty, which is one of the reasons I [didn’t] vote to remain in Europe – because you’re guilty until you’re proved innocent. That’s totally the opposite from England and it’s very difficult to prove you’re innocent in another country and another language.
“Most people in England don’t believe it. I didn’t do it. Move on. It’s a cross I have to bear, right or wrong, good or bad, I have to live with it. And I do, because I’m clear in my mind and I think most people in England are that it’s not true.
“I don’t give a toss about her, love. It was 25 years ago so you can take your political nature and do whatever you want with it. You want to talk to me about my knighthood. It’s very nice of you to have me, but I couldn’t give a toss.”
As you can imagine, there has been a backlash to Boycott’s words, including a strong response from Spice Girls singer Mel B (full name: Melanie Brown).
The singer, who has opened up about her own experiences of being in an abusive relationship before, tweeted: “Geoffrey Boycott is a disgrace to Yorkshire, I cannot believe he has been knighted, perpetrators of domestic abuse shouldn’t be held up as heroes EVER.”
Brown’s words are particularly poignant as, in her memoir Brutally Honest, she claimed that she was unhappy in a coercive relationship with former husband Stephen Belafonte. During an interview with The Guardian last year, she said: “I’m only strong in certain ways. I’ve been painfully weak. There was a point when I was like, ‘Yeah, I am a really bad person. I am ugly, I am worth nothing. I am a has-been Spice Girl.’ All these negative things that would be drilled into me on a daily basis by him. You start to believe it.”
The allegations, which date back to over a decade, have been denied by Belafonte.
Many others on Twitter have also come out in support of women affected by domestic abuse in light of the Boycott news.
Although Johnson is yet to respond to the call to withdraw the knighthood, the internet has shared a very loud and clear message.