MP says constituents have his ‘full commitment’ even though he earns £955,000 elsewhere
Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Cox has broken his silence over revelations he had a lucrative second job working for tax havens in the Caribbean, saying that he was “pursuing an honourable profession”.
The former attorney general had been advising the British Virgin Islands government – via London-based law firm Withers LLP – during an inquiry into allegations of state corruption.
He was paid more than £54,000 for legal work in October, according to the most recent update of the parliamentary register of interests.
This most recent declaration brings his total legal earnings this year to almost £955,000, on top of his MP’s salary of £81,932.
Sir Geoffrey has been referred to Westminster’s rules watchdog after allegations he used his parliamentary office while advising the government of the Caribbean islands.
He had joined day 55 of the British Virgin Islands Commission of Inquiry via video link on Wednesday while the Commons was sitting.
The revelations came as a number of Conservative MPs were accused of having inappropriate second jobs including working as lobbyists.
Sir Geoffrey told ITV News:: “All I’ve been doing is pursuing an honourable profession and looking after my constituency.”
Asked if he was guilty of sleaze, the MP for Torridge and West Devon said: "Geen, of course not.”
Hy het bygevoeg: “I’m doing in Parliament exactly what John Smith did, what Bob Marshall-Andrews did, what Alex Carlisle did, what dozens of very distinguished Labour and Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs have done for generations in parliament, which is to practise the law.”
Sir Geoffrey defended his outside interests by arguing 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”.
He was asked to advise the BVI government and has described his role at the hearings as being “to assist the public inquiry in getting to the truth”.
Sir Geoffrey also insisted that his constituents get his “full commitment at all times”.
Hy het voortgegaan: “I’ve been voted in many times and I look forward to abiding by the judgement of the electorate next time.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced increasing pressure to take action amid the escalating sleaze scandal engulfing his party.
Vroeër hierdie maand, in a bid to reassure the public, he had said that MPs who break the rules “should be punished”.
Mr Johnson backed a ban on MPs working as paid consultants or lobbyists and insisted that anyone “prioritising outside interests” and neglecting their constituents must face investigation.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said the sleaze scandal is a “test of leadership” for the PM.
She also said: “Geoffrey Cox is taking the mick and the prime minister is letting him get away with it.”