How to earn £5.5million: Geoffrey Cox has spent 10,700 hours ‘moonlighting’ since 2009… the equivalent to FIVE YEARS of working a full-time job
- Sir Geoffrey Cox earned more than £5.5million from ‘moonlighting’ as a lawyer
- Records show that he has spent 10,700 hours on his ‘second job’ since 2009
- He devoted almost 30 hours a week to his legal work in some years
The staggering detail of how Sir Geoffrey Cox earned more than £5.5 million from ‘moonlighting’ as a lawyer can be revealed today.
Records show the former Cabinet Minister has spent a staggering 10,700 hours on his ‘second job’ since 2009, lining his pockets as a leading barrister.
He devoted almost 30 hours a week to his legal work in some years, earning an average of more than £500 an hour, according to the Commons Register of Interests.
Sir Geoffrey’s recorded £5.51 million outside earnings would have been far higher had he not spent a year and a half as Attorney General – or if it included similar income from his first four years in the Commons when MPs were not required to give details of such pay.
The 10,700 hours Sir Geoffrey has devoted to non-parliamentary private work in the past 12 years is equivalent to five years of a normal 40-hour working week.
Some of it was earned abroad, including the Cayman Islands – a well-known tax haven like the British Virgin Islands, where his controversial work linked to an anti-corruption drive has got him into trouble. In 2014, Sir Geoffrey successfully defended the former premier of the Caribbean territory, McKeeva Bush, in a corruption trial.
The MP is now facing the prospect of an inquiry by the Standards Commissioner over his work for the British Virgin Islands in a corruption case brought by the UK Government.
A video has emerged of him sitting in his Commons office while participating remotely in the inquiry, in apparent breach of rules that ban MPs from using their publicly funded offices for non-parliamentary work.
A statement from his office said: ‘As for the allegation that he breached the parliamentary code of conduct on one occasion, on September 14, 2021, by being in his office while participating in an online hearing in the public inquiry and voting in the House of Commons, he understands the matter has been referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner and he will fully co-operate with her investigation.
‘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.’
Sir Geoffrey, 61, has been a barrister since 1982, long before he entered politics, and was appointed a QC in 2003.
He carried on with his profession after being elected as the Conservative MP for Torridge and West Devon in 2005. Initially, his entries in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests simply declared that he earned money from ‘Practice at the Bar of England and Wales’.
But starting in 2009, as the rules were tightened, he was required to record every penny he earned as a sought-after barrister covering everything from criminal trials to advising foreign states.
In total, his declared outside earnings stand at £5.51 million, but he has also been paid close to £800,000 as an MP over the same period. Sir Geoffrey also received a ministerial salary of £94,450 when he was Attorney General, meaning he would have received close to another £150,000 during the 18 months he held the post.
Sir Geoffrey’s recorded £5.51 million outside earnings would have been far higher had he not spent a year and a half as Attorney General – or if it included similar income from his first four years in the Commons when MPs were not required to give details of such pay
As well as solicitors’ firms in London who instructed him, he has been paid by the government of Mauritius and legal chambers in the Cayman Islands, Dubai and India. In September 2020, he became ‘consultant global counsel’ to international law firm Withers, earning £468,000 for up to 48 hours’ work a month.
As of this month, his salary has gone down to £400,000 for up to 41 hours’ work each month.
One of Sir Geoffrey’s biggest paydays was a £325,000 payment from London law firm Janes for 500 hours’ work in 2015.
In addition to his massive annual salary from Withers, he has received several extra payments from the firm in recent months, equivalent to more than £1,000 an hour. He billed £63,143 for 50 hours’ work in June – equivalent to £1,262 an hour. In the same month, London law firm Khan Partnership paid him £4,166 for four hours’ work – £1,041 an hour.
This was almost 100 times more than his constituents typically earn, with the median hourly pay in his constituency standing at £10.48 an hour in 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics.
A statement issued on Sir Geoffrey’s behalf yesterday said: ‘He is a leading barrister in England and makes no secret of his professional activities. Sir Geoffrey regularly works 70-hour weeks and always ensures that his casework on behalf of his constituents is given primary importance and fully carried out.’
Labour MP Anneliese Dodds said: ‘This year Tory MP Geoffrey Cox earned over £700,000 defending a tax haven against corruption charges. This year the Conservatives cut £7.4 million in Universal Credit from his Torridge and West Devon constituency. You can’t serve your constituents and be a Caribbean-based barrister.’
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