REVEALED: How shameless Tory MP Sir Geoffrey Cox has made at least £5.5MILLION as he ‘moonlighted’ in his ‘second job’ as a top QC for 10,700 hours since going into Parliament
- Sir Geoffrey Cox earned more than £5.5million from working as a lawyer while serving as MP
- Former Attorney general worked 10,700 hours for fee which dwindled MP salary
- Boris Johnson rocked by outcry at Cox voting in Parliament from the Caribbean
Sir Geoffrey Cox has earned more than £5.5 million from his work as a lawyer while he has been an MP, the Daily Mail can reveal today.
The former Attorney General, who is facing a sleaze probe, worked 10,700 hours for the vast sum, which dwarfed his salary as an MP, official records show.
Boris Johnson has been rocked by the public outcry over the revelation that Sir Geoffrey voted in Parliament remotely from the Caribbean for weeks during lockdown while advising the government of the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven accused of corruption. Last night, the Prime Minister attempted to read the riot act to MPs, telling them: ‘You must put your job as an MP first and you must devote yourself primarily and above all to your constituents.’
Mr Johnson said MPs who broke the rules should be ‘punished’. And in a sign of concern that the sleaze row is damaging Britain’s international reputation, he told the UN-sponsored climate summit in Glasgow that the UK ‘is not a remotely corrupt country, and nor do I believe our institutions are corrupt’.
Sir Geoffrey Cox (pictured) has earned more than £5.5 million from his work as a lawyer while he has been an MP, the Daily Mail can reveal today
But the PM backed the right of MPs to continue taking paid second jobs, saying they had ‘actually strengthened our democracy’ over centuries.
His effort to bring MPs back into line was undermined by a defiant statement from Sir Geoffrey, in which he claimed his work trip to the Caribbean during lockdown in April had been sanctioned by the Government’s chief whip Mark Spencer.
Last night it was claimed Sir Geoffrey was in another tax haven – Mauritius – for business this week.
The Daily Mirror reported that the MP was on a ‘short business trip’ on the island nation where he met ‘quite a few people’ for meetings.
A government source told the Mail they did not know where Sir Geoffrey was, but they expected he would be back in Parliament next week.
The former Attorney General, who is facing a sleaze probe, worked 10,700 hours for the vast sum, which dwarfed his salary as an MP, official records show
It came as:
- Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone was considering launching a sleaze probe over allegations Sir Geoffrey used his taxpayer-funded Commons office to conduct work on his Caribbean contract;
- Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said the PM should apologise after getting it ‘very badly wrong’ in his bid to block the suspension of former minister Owen Paterson for breaking lobbying rules;
- Andrew Bowie quit as vice-chairman of the Tory party after telling friends he could no longer defend the PM’s handling of sleaze allegations;
- Video footage showed Sir Geoffrey complaining that the need to register outside work was a ‘profound invasion’ into an MP’s life;
- Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said former MPs involved in lobbying should be banned from holding parliamentary passes;
- Polling guru Sir John Curtice said it was becoming clear the sleaze row had ‘cost the Conservatives some support’.
Sir Geoffrey did not respond to questions from the Mail yesterday over his huge earnings from ‘moonlighting’. But in a statement posted on his website, the former Cabinet minister said he ‘makes no secret’ of his outside work, which is recorded in Parliament’s register of MPs’ interests.
Analysis of his entries by the Mail show he has been paid £5.5 million for 10,700 hours of outside legal work since 2009 – when MPs were first forced to declare the scale of their earnings. In some years, he has devoted an average of more than 30 hours a week to his second jobs.
In his statement yesterday he claimed to ‘regularly work 70-hour weeks’ and insisted that his constituency work was ‘given primary importance and fully carried out’.
Government sources told reporters on Tuesday that Mr Spencer had reprimanded Sir Geoffrey and ordered him to be ‘physically present’ in Parliament. But in a damaging response, Sir Geoffrey said he had informed Mr Spencer that he planned to vote by proxy from the Caribbean and been told it was ‘appropriate’.
The claim will raise fresh questions about the judgment of Mr Spencer, who is under pressure from Tory MPs over the botched attempt to save Mr Paterson, which ended in a humiliating U-turn.
Video footage appears to show Sir Geoffrey addressing the British Virgin Islands inquiry via video link from his Commons office on September 14. Labour referred the footage to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, and suggested Sir Geoffrey may have broken rules stating MPs must ‘ensure that their use of public resources is always in support of their parliamentary duties’.
Sir Geoffrey said he would ‘fully co-operate’ but he ‘did not believe he had breached the rules’.
Last night there was growing anger among Tory MPs towards the PM over his handling of the Paterson case.
One senior MP said there ‘a lot of very unhappy people’, adding: ‘Boris has failed to get a grip on this and it is now in danger of spiralling completely out of control.’
Another said: ‘He’s right to say people should be punished for lobbying, but it was only last week that he forced us through the lobbies to prevent that happening to Owen Paterson. He’s all over the place.’
Nice work if you can get it
By Simon Walters and Martin Beckford for the Daily Mail
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 staggering detail of how Sir Geoffrey Cox earned more than £5.5 million from ‘moonlighting’ as a lawyer can be revealed today (file image)
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.
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 (file image)
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.
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.
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 (file image)
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.’
Did lockdown loophole let him dodge travel ban?
By Jason Groves and Glen Keogh for the Daily Mail
The former attorney general is thought to have used a loophole in lockdown laws to fly to the Caribbean in late April when almost all foreign travel was banned.
Sir Geoffrey Cox has so far refused to clarify exactly when he was in the British Virgin Islands to work on his lucrative second job.
But local reports suggest he arrived on April 26, three weeks before the British Government lifted the ban on international travel. There were limited exemptions for those deemed to be on ‘essential’ business.
Court documents state Sir Geoffrey was at an inquiry in the island’s capital Tortola on May 13 and May 18. Nine days later he posted pictures on Twitter opening a new social centre at Hartford Bridge Park in Devon.
At the time, the British Virgin Islands were on the UK’s amber travel list, meaning anyone returning had to isolate at home for ten days. But a Whitehall source pointed out that the Government had introduced a ‘test and release’ scheme.
Sun seeking: Sir Geoffrey in Devon in May, days after being in the British Virgin Islands
This saw very limited exemptions for ‘crown servants’, foreign diplomats and essential workers to avoid quarantine after as little as five days if they had a negative PCR test.
Sir Geoffrey did not respond to questions yesterday about when he travelled, or what quarantine arrangements he undertook.
He made a second visit to the Caribbean islands the following month. He is advising the government of the BVI, a tax haven accused of corruption, in an inquiry ordered by the British Foreign Office. Reporters were told this week that Sir Geoffrey is ‘abroad’.
His wife Jeanie arrived at their Devon home alone in her black Land Rover but refused to answer the Daily Mail’s enquiry about the whereabouts of her husband. She said: ‘No. I have nothing to say to you. I don’t care what you want to know.’
£110k for defending Cayman politician in corruption trial
By Tom Witherow for the Daily Mail
Sir Geoffrey Cox earned up to £110,000 defending the controversial former premier of the Cayman Islands in a high profile corruption trial.
The Tory MP is at the centre of the row over second jobs after this paper revealed he used Covid rules to vote in Parliament from the British Virgin Islands.
It has now emerged Sir Geoffrey, 61, was paid £355 an hour for eight weeks’ work for the Cayman Islands law firm that represented then opposition leader McKeeva Bush.
In the periods he was paid by Travers, Thorp, Alberga, he made one speech of just 46 words in the Commons, bolstering critics’ claims that he is an absentee MP.
In the 2014 trial, Sir Geoffrey successfully defended Bush against claims he used his government credit card to withdraw $50,000 in casinos in the US and the Bahamas.
Bush had been charged with 11 counts of official misconduct and breach of public trust, and had been removed from office. But he was acquitted after Sir Geoffrey argued he was the subject of ‘a cynical plot of breathtaking proportions’ at the hands of a British-appointed official pursuing a ‘personal vendetta’.
It has now emerged Sir Geoffrey, 61, was paid £355 an hour for eight weeks’ work for the Cayman Islands law firm that represented then opposition leader McKeeva Bush (pictured)
The MPs’ register of interests showed Sir Geoffrey earned £110,000 working for the firm between July and August 2013, and July and October 2014. It is not known whether all 310 hours were devoted to Bush’s case, but the payments all fall within the period between Bush being charged in March 2013 and his acquittal in October 2014.
In total Sir Geoffrey earned £820,000 between December 2012 and October 2014 for 1,552 hours of work as a barrister – equivalent to almost ten months of work.
He faced harsh criticism in 2018 for defending tax havens without declaring that he had earned thousands working for law firms in the Cayman Islands.
Bush has faced a litany of allegations of corruption, assault and sexual assault. Last December he was handed a suspended sentence for a ‘shameful’ drunken assault on a woman, captured on CCTV. It led to calls for him to resign as speaker of the Caymanian parliament.
In 2017 he was investigated for battery after allegedly groping a female employee at a Florida casino.
The charges were later dropped.
In a statement yesterday Sir Geoffrey said he regularly works 70-hour weeks and always ensures his constituents’ casework is given primary importance and fully carried out.
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