Geoffrey Cox: Tory MP ‘does not believe’ he broke rules by using Commons office for second job in Caribbean

Cox ‘fully understands that the matter has been referred to to the parliamentary commissioner and he will fully cooperate’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 10 November 2021 19:03
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<p>Former attorney general Geoffrey Cox</p>

Former attorney general Geoffrey Cox

Sir Geoffrey Cox has claimed he “does not believe” he breached MPs’ rules – despite footage appearing to show him undertaking external work from his Commons office.

In a statement, the former attorney general also revealed that the party’s chief whip had advised him it was “appropriate” to vote via a proxy from the Caribbean in April while advising the government of the British overseas territory on a corruption case.

At the time, provision had been made for MPs to participate remotely in parliamentary business while the country faced draconian Covid restrictions.

However, the statement from Sir Geoffrey – issued on his website – defended his decision to work for the government of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), insisting he “regularly works 70-hour weeks” and that he gives “primary importance” to his constituency work.

“Prior to his visit to the BVI, he consulted the chief whip specially on this issue, and was advised that it was appropriate,” the statement said.

After Labour demanded an investigation into whether Sir Geoffrey had broken Commons rules on a separate occasion on 14 September, amid claims he had used his parliamentary office to carry out private work for the BVI government, the Tory MP said he would cooperate with any such investigation.

The statement added: “He fully understands that the matter has been referred to to the parliamentary commissioner and he will fully cooperate.

“He does not believe that he breached the rules but will of course accept the judgment of the parliamentary commissioner or of the committee on the matter.”

However, in a letter to the parliamentary commissioner, Kathryn Stone, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said the MPs’ code of conduct was “very clear” that elected representatives must ensure that “any facilities and services provided from the public purse” were used “always in support of their parliamentary duties”, and that the use of such facilities “should not confer any ... financial benefit on themselves”.

A video grab taken from the YouTube channel of the BVI Commission of Inquiry, in which Sir Geoffrey is seen representing BVI government ministers remotely on 14 September

The statement on behalf of Sir Geoffrey, who was attorney general under Theresa May, added: “Sir Geoffrey’s view is that it is up to the electors of Torridge and West Devon whether or not they vote for someone who is a senior and distinguished professional in his field and who still practices that profession.

“That has been the consistent view of the local Conservative Association, and although at every election his political opponents have sought to make a prominent issue of his professional practice, it has so far been the consistent view of the voters of Torridge and West Devon. Sir Geoffrey is very content to abide by their decision.”

The most recent register of financial interests showed that Sir Geoffrey will earn more than £800,000 from Withers, an international law firm appointed by the BVI government in January.

Sir Geoffrey also disclosed in the register that from September 28 this year, until further notice, he will be paid £400,000 a year by Withers for up to 41 hours of work per month.

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