Geoffrey Cox took SECOND trip to Caribbean while Commons was sitting

New Geoffrey Cox bombshells: Tory grandee took SECOND trip to Caribbean while Commons was sitting… and was forced to declare an interest after voting against tax haven reforms

  • Sir Geoffrey Cox was rebuked by Government Chief Whip Mark Spencer
  • It followed revelations about the former attorney general’s lucrative second job
  • The Daily Mail revealed he worked in the Caribbean despite lockdown in the UK
  • He cast votes in the Commons by proxy while he worked 4,000 miles away 

Sir Geoffrey Cox was ordered to spend more time in Parliament on Tuesday night – as it emerged he made a second trip to a Caribbean tax haven while the Commons was sitting.

The former attorney general was rebuked by Government Chief Whip Mark Spencer following revelations in today’s Daily Mail about his lucrative second job.

The Tory grandee has been advising the government of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a tax haven accused of corruption.

In a story that stunned Westminster, the Mail revealed that Sir Geoffrey took advantage of lockdown rules to cast votes in the Commons by proxy as he worked 4,000 miles away in the Caribbean during April and May.

A Government source said Mr Spencer had ‘reminded him he needs to be physically present in Parliament, representing his constituents’.

Sir Geoffrey Cox was ordered to spend more time in Parliament on Tuesday night – as it emerged he made a second trip to a Caribbean tax haven while the Commons was sitting.

Downing Street also distanced itself from Mr Cox, with a No 10 spokesman saying an MP’s ‘primary job’ should be serving their constituents.

But the Mail can reveal that Sir Geoffrey made a second trip to the Caribbean in June as he battled to clear the BVI government in a corruption inquiry launched by the British Foreign Office.

Footage from the inquiry shows that Sir Geoffrey was present in the courtroom where the inquiry was held on the largest of the islands – Tortola – on June 22, when Parliament was sitting in London discussing Covid regulations.

It also emerged on Tuesday that Sir Geoffrey had been forced to declare an interest in 2018 after voting against a tightening of anti-money laundering regulations in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands, where he defended a former premier against corruption charges. Sir Geoffrey has so far declined to respond to repeated requests for comment on the affair.

Reporters visiting his West Devon home yesterday were told he was ‘abroad’. A Government source said the Chief Whip’s reprimand had been delivered by phone, suggesting Sir Geoffrey was absent from Westminster again on another Parliamentary sitting day.

It also emerged Sir Geoffrey voted in person in Parliament on just two days over a 13-month period. The revelations followed controversy over Boris Johnson’s botched attempt to block the suspension of former minister Owen Paterson for breaking lobbying rules. The row came as:

  • MPs faced a crackdown on second jobs, with possible rules to limit hours and ban working for lobbying firms;
  • The Metropolitan Police said they were ‘considering’ calls to investigate ‘cash for honours’ allegations relating to the appointment of Tory donors to the Lords;
  • The PM prepared to return to the Cop26 climate change summit today in a bid to move the news agenda away from sleaze;
  • Sir Keir Starmer faced allegations of hypocrisy after it emerged he had given paid advice to a legal firm registered as a lobbyist while an MP;
  • No 10 said Parliament would be invited to ‘unpick’ the PM’s failed attempt to tear up anti-sleaze rules next week;

Sir Geoffrey is not accused of breaking the rules in pocketing more than £1million in outside earnings last year on top of his £82,000 MP’s salary.

But senior Tories were privately aghast at his decision to decamp to the Caribbean for up to a month at the tail end of the last lockdown in pursuit of a lucrative contract.

One source said: ‘It is very sad that we are having to tell MPs that they need to put their constituents first.’

Labour called for an investigation into his conduct, adding that the Prime Minister needed to decide whether Sir Geoffrey was a ‘Caribbean-based barrister or a Conservative MP’.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab initially appeared to defend Sir Geoffrey yesterday, saying that his outside work was ‘legitimate’.

Mr Raab said it was ‘quite important’ to have MPs who had ‘some knowledge’ of British overseas territories like the BVI. But as anger grew, No 10 later distanced itself from the former Cabinet minister.

A Downing Street spokesman said the Prime Minister believed an MP’s ‘primary job is and must be to serve their constituents and to represent their interests in Parliament’.

He added: ‘They should be visible in their constituencies and available to help constituents with their constituency matters.

‘If they’re not doing that, they’re not doing their job and will rightly be judged on that by their constituents.’

Labour moved to exploit the crisis. Party chairman Anneliese Dodds wrote to the PM urging him to ‘show leadership’ and investigate the case.

She said: ‘Sir Geoffrey’s behaviour means it looks like he’d rather get a tax haven off the hook than represent the interests of his constituents.’

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