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Wednesday, November 11, 1998 Published at 02:44 GMT


UK

Boycott facing test of public opinion

Assault conviction could ruin Boycott's career

Former England cricketer Geoff Boycott is facing one of his biggest ever tests with public opinion appearing to be against him after his conviction for assaulting an ex-girlfriend.

The tough-talking Yorkshireman has been dropped as a commentator by newspapers and broadcasters following the outcome of the court case in France.


The BBC's Claudia Milne: Boycott will appeal this verdict
The Sun newspaper immediately sacked him as a columnist and both the BBC and Trans World International, for whom he has commentated in the past, said they had no intention of using him again.

It was most damaging setback to date for the 58-year-old former Yorkshire batsman in his highly-publicised row with former girlfriend Margaret Moore.

The initial fallout from the verdict suggests it could spell the end of Boycott's highly successful post-playing career as a cricket pundit.


Geoffrey Boycott: Disappointed but not surprised
Miss Moore took him to court in January for allegedly punching her 20 times after an argument in a hotel in October 1996.

Boycott was given a three-month suspended sentence and fined 50,000 francs (£5,100) by a French court.

He challenged the verdict on the basis that he was not present at the first trial, but on Tuesday the same court in the southern French town of Grasse ruled that the conviction should stand.

'Repugnant'

Despite his continued protestations of innocence and the announcement that he intends to appeal, the British press was roundly damning of the former England captain.


[ image: Margaret Moore: Punched in the face 20 times]
Margaret Moore: Punched in the face 20 times
The Sun, which employed Boycott as its cricket columnist, confirmed that he had been dismissed as a result of the conviction.

A spokesman said: "Our readers would find repugnant the idea of us employing someone with a conviction for violence against a woman."

Boycott was dropped by BSkyB and the BBC radio commentary team in January after the first court case.

He was reinstated by the BBC in July after the initial conviction was set aside, but his contract ran out at the end of the summer and the corporation has said it is unlikely to be renewed.

Unclear future

A BBC spokeswoman said: "Geoffrey Boycott is not under contract with the BBC and there are no plans to use him in the future."

His future was also unclear at Trans World International, the television production company that has employed him to commentate on international matches in India, Pakistan and the West Indies.

The company said it had no cricket coverage planned for the immediate future, but declined to confirm that he would work for them again.

Boycott was absent for Tuesday's court decision, but in a statement released after the verdict he said: "I am extremely hurt and disappointed with the outcome of today's hearing.

"I am not guilty of hitting Margaret Moore and hope that the public have come to realise this."

He has continued to complain about the way his case has been handled by the court, saying he has been unable to understand much of the proceedings because they were in French.

Boycott's defence claimed Miss Moore had slipped after flying into a rage when he refused to marry her.

Miss Moore, who was awarded just one franc in damages, was said to be "very, very happy".

No date has yet been set for the appeal hearing.





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