The row over Geoffrey Boycott's knighthood has escalated after Harriet Harman, the UK's senior female MP, called for Theresa May to review her "baffling" decision to honour a man who was convicted in a French court in 1998 for assaulting his then-girlfriend, Margaret Moore.

Boycott was knighted in May's resignation honours list, alongside another former England opening batsman, Andrew Strauss, in spite of being fined £5,000 and handed a three-month suspended jail sentence in the wake of an incident at a French hotel in 1996.

On the morning after the honour was made public, Boycott told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he "didn't give a toss" about criticism from anti-domestic abuse campaigners, including Adina Claire, the co-acting chief executive of Women's Aid, who described his honour as "extremely disappointing".

And now, Harman, the longest-serving female MP at Westminster, has weighed in on the row, suggesting that there ought to be a process to review an "incomprehensible" decision before "the Queen comes to lay her sword on the shoulder of Geoffrey Boycott".

Boycott, however, has always denied the charge, and in a testy exchange with the Today programme presenter, Martha Kearney, he added that his experience of the French judicial system had contributed to his outspoken support for Brexit.

"I don't give a toss about her [Claire], love," Boycott, 78, told Kearney. "It was 25 years ago. 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.

"Twenty-five years ago, love, in a French court, she tried to blackmail me for £1million. I said no, because in England if you pay any money at all, we think: 'Hang on, there must be something there'. I said: 'I'm not paying anything' … I'm not sure I'd actually got a million at the time.

"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."

May, who stood down as prime minister in June, is a keen cricket fan and has often cited Boycott as her sporting hero - telling Test Match Special earlier this year she admired the way he "stuck at it, he had a plan and got on with it, and more often than not delivered".

Boycott's honour for services to sport was one of two knighthoods for former cricketers in May's resignation honours, alongside the double-Ashes-winning captain Strauss, whose three-year role as England director of cricket was integral in laying the groundwork for this year's World Cup victory.

However, the fact that May introduced a landmark domestic abuse bill to parliament earlier this year, which is still in the process of being ratified, left Harman perplexed.

"She brought forward a domestic abuse bill, which is still in the process of going through Parliament, so I'm slightly baffled by why she's done this," Harman told Sky News. "I think she might have been ill-advised.

"I hope there's a process before the Queen comes to lay her sword on the shoulder of Geoffrey Boycott, in which the Prime Minister can actually review her decision, because she is committed to championing the cause of tackling domestic violence. It's quite an incomprehensible decision, and I'm hoping there's time to think again about it."

Boycott, however, insisted that he should be judged solely on the basis of his cricket career, in which he made 8114 runs in 108 Tests, before becoming one of the best-known voices on the Test Match Special commentary team. "This is just recognition of my cricket," he said. "[It's] very nice, very honoured, thankful to Theresa May and I thank all the people that supported me and cared for me throughout my cricketing career."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @miller_cricket