Former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has a second job which saw him voting remotely from the Caribbean
A Tory MP made hundreds of thousands of pounds from a second job that saw him voting in the Caribbean Remote Parliament.
Geoffrey Cox, QC and former Attorney General, advises the government of the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven accused of corruption.
He took advantage of foreclosure rules to vote in the Commons by proxy as he worked 4,000 miles away on the lucrative contract earlier this year, a source revealed.
Geoffrey Cox pictured with his wife Jeanie. He has been paid almost Â£ 900,000 by an international law firm in the past year and received over Â£ 130,000 for other legal work
Sir Geoffrey revealed yesterday that he has earned over Â£ 1million from outside legal work over the past year in addition to his Â£ 82,000 salary as a backbench MP.
A Whitehall insider said: “While he should have been in the UK to work for his constituents, he went to the British Virgin Islands to do his second job as a lawyer and counsel those accused of spending money on their friends. “
The revelation is likely to spark further calls for regulatory reform around second MP jobs.
It came as Boris Johnson was accused of “running scared” after snubbing a heated debate in the Commons yesterday following the row over the government’s botched attempt to block the suspension of disgraced Tory MP Owen Paterson.
According to a source, Sir Geoffrey, known to be the highest paid MP, has spent up to a month in the British Virgin Islands working for Withers, an international law firm.
In other developments yesterday:
- Labor took a narrow lead over the Tories in the polls for the first time in 12 months;
- A Tory MP said he was about to send a letter of no confidence in Mr Johnson’s leadership – the first step towards a possible competition to replace him;
- House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said the Conservatives’ attempt to tear up the sordid rules had presented Parliament “at its worst”;
- Another disgraced Conservative MP, Daniel Kawczynski, faces a Commons ban for clash with the sleaze watchdog;
- The SNP wrote to Metropolitan Police calling for an investigation into the “money for honors” demands, following revelations that a slew of Tory donors had been appointed to the Lords;
- Parliament has faced increasing pressure to abandon the system of providing laissez-passer to former MPs, which could allow Mr Paterson to continue to enjoy privileged access to Westminster institutions;
- The prime minister said he had not discussed a future peerage with Mr Paterson but declined to rule out the idea.
Sir Geoffrey, known to be the highest paid MP, spent up to a month in the British Virgin Islands working for Withers, an international law firm, while voting by proxy in the Commons, a source said.
Sir Geoffrey advises the government of the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven accused of corruption
He has been paid almost Â£ 900,000 by Withers in the past year and received over Â£ 130,000 for other legal work.
He is believed to have been in the BVI in April and May of this year. He was recorded as arriving on April 26, as the Commons debated global sanctions against corruption.
A press release that day on the BVI government website said Sir Geoffrey was “currently in quarantine” but “intended to hold a series of meetings with government ministers in the coming weeks. “.
He was among the MPs eligible for a proxy vote that day.
The financial interest register shows that he received Â£ 156,916.08 from Withers for work undertaken between April 29 and May 31, 2021, totaling 140 hours.
Sir Geoffrey, who was sacked from his post as attorney general last year, has represented the government of the BVI, a British overseas territory, in an inquiry into the governance of the islands.
It was launched in January by the Foreign Ministry to establish whether there was any evidence of “corruption, abuse of office or other serious dishonesty that has taken place in the public service in recent years.”
The investigation heard allegations of unverified spending and contracts handed over to politically connected people.
The hearings revealed tensions between the BVI local government and its governor, who is appointed by the UK.
A senior Whitehall source accused Sir Geoffrey of “pocketing hundreds of thousands of pounds to help end the corruption exposure in a Caribbean paradise”.
Appledore in Geoffrey Cox constituency in Devon. The Tory MP revealed yesterday that he has earned over Â£ 1million from outside legal work over the past year in addition to his Â£ 82,000 salary as a backbench MP
At the time, coronavirus restrictions meant MPs could participate in House of Commons debates via Zoom and vote by proxy – meaning they didn’t have to come to Westminster.
Sir Geoffrey was hired by Withers in September last year as a “global consultant consultant” to advise private and government clients overseas, according to the firm’s website.
A message announcing his appointment stated that he remained MP for Torridge and West Devon and Privy Councilor, and that he would still practice as a lawyer with Thomas More Chambers in London.
The UK government funds the “main cost” of the commission of inquiry to the BVI, but will not pay the fees associated with legal advisers appointed by individuals or organizations.
Labor MP Karl Turner said yesterday: “How does Geoffrey Cox find the time to do his work as a constituency MP?”
He comes as more and more calls for MPs to be banned from having a second job involving consultancy work. Sir Geoffrey provided legal work, but many of his colleagues held paid positions as consultants.
Sir Geoffrey did not respond to a request for comment last night.