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Tuesday, October 20, 1998 Published at 19:59 GMT 20:59 UK


Boycott denies hitting former girlfriend

Geoff Boycott: Says ex-girlfriend fell

Former England cricket captain and BBC commentator Geoff Boycott has told a French court that he did not punch his former girlfriend in the face.

Kevin Connolly reports from the hearing in Grasse
Mr Boycott appeared at Grasse court, on the Cote d'Azur, to appeal against his conviction in January for beating his ex-girlfriend Margaret Moore.

Because the case was heard in his absence Mr Boycott has the right to a retrial.

Appeal against conviction

At Tuesday's hearing he was accompanied by his legal team, his current lover, an ex-girlfriend, and four medical and photographic experts.

Other witnesses present to support his appeal against sentence included three women who have suffered bruises by falling, rather than being hit.

[ image: Margaret Moore: Says she was punched]
Margaret Moore: Says she was punched
Solicitor Sue Simm-Stuart, who used to act for Mrs Moore but has since swapped sides, will also give supporting evidence to Mr Boycott.

Mr Boycott told the court how Mrs Moore threatened to commit suicide and slipped and fell during a row in a luxury hotel while they were holidaying on the French Riviera in 1996.

He has always denied the assault, for which he received a three-month suspended sentence and a £5,000 fine.

During the original hearing, Mrs Moore said that Mr Boycott attacked her in a hotel room while the couple were on holiday in Antibes in October 1996.

She had claimed that he punched her 20 times in the face before checking out and leaving her to pay the bill.

She 'slipped'

Mr Boycott claimed she became hysterical and slipped, hitting her head, after he refused to marry her and told her their relationship was over.

His lawyer, Richard Knaggs, has now put together a case involving two of his former lovers who will both give evidence defending the sportsman's character.

Rachel Swinglehurst, a divorcee who used to go on tour with Mr Boycott, will be followed onto the stand by former actress Shirley Western, who appeared as an extra in Carry On films and with whom he conducted a 10-year affair.

Mrs Moore is expected to present three witnesses during the hearing.

Mr Boycott's publicist Max Clifford was locked away in a witness room until it was time for him to give evidence in support of his client.

Max Clifford told off

Mr Clifford was reprimanded for asking journalists to ring his office to check that the media world was coping without him.

Ahead of the hearing, Mr Clifford said the former England captain was "very, very confident" about winning the case.

"He has already had public redemption and now he wants the French court to recognise his innocence.

"He has a strong case and he will win," he said.

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