Commission Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Cox has said he did not break parliamentary rules by carrying out paid legal work in his House of Commons office.T he ex-attorney general, who has made almost £900,000 in the last year as a barrister, apparently took part in a virtual meeting there on 14 September. MPs cannot use public resources, including parliamentary offices, for “personal or financial benefit”.Sir Geoffrey said it was up to voters to decide whether he remains an MP.Labour has referred his case for the investigation by the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.Last month, Conservative MP Owen Paterson was found to have broken rules by lobbying the government on behalf of companies who were paying him – and for using his Commons office for business meetings, which is prohibited.
His case has raised questions about the extra work some MPs do on top of their parliamentary jobs.MPs are allowed to do extra jobs – for example, as doctors or lawyers, or writing books or giving speeches – but they must declare their additional income along with gifts and donations.Sir Geoffrey, 61, the MP for Torridge and West Devon since 2005, has continued to practise as a barrister. His work includes advising the British Virgin Islands government inquiry into alleged corruption. Video footage from September is available online of Sir Geoffrey participating in a virtual hearing for the inquiry from what appears to be his Commons office. At one point he gets up from his chair, returning to it around half an hour later.
His absence happened at the same time that Sir Geoffrey and other MPs were voting on the government’s health care and social care funding reforms. I’m afraid I have compelling other commitments. “Forgive my absence during some of the morning. The bell went off. I’m afraid the bell went off. “Sir Geoffrey regularly works 70-hour work weeks and ensures that his casework for his constituents is given first importance and fully executed,” the statement states. “Sir Geoffrey believes that it is up to the electors in Torridge and West Devon to vote for someone who is a senior, distinguished professional in his field and still practices that profession. “That has been the consistent opinion of the local Conservative Association.
Although his political opponents have tried to make a prominent issue about his professional practice at every election, it has so far been consistent with the view of voters in Torridge and West Devon.
Sir Geoffrey is happy to follow their decision. “Sir Geoffrey is also under fire for voting from the British Virgin Islands, while working there during the period when MPs were permitted to vote by proxy, or remotely, because of the pandemic. In his statement, he says he consulted the Conservative chief whip “specifically on this issue and was advised that it was appropriate”.Torridge and West Devon Conservative Association chairman John Gray said: “Geoffrey Cox is a superb constituency MP. He combines a strong ethos in public service with an amazing work ethic and valuable legal knowledge. “Sir Geoffrey’s long statement is an attempt to defend his actions. He explains that he has never tried to hide his high-paid work as a barrister and that it is not a problem for voters in his constituency. Local Tories praise the “astonishing” work ethic of their “superb MP.”
Labour won’t allow this to go and has focused on Sir Geoffrey’s reported use of his office while he did additional paid work. He seems to believe that he has done nothing wrong. He also draws in a couple of government officials whose approval he sought along his way. Sir Geoffrey claims that Mark Spencer, Conservative chief whip, consulted about proxy voting abroad and was told it was appropriate. Attorney General Suella Braverman, whose office confirmed that there was no conflict of interests in his work in the British Virgin Islands, also advised that there was no conflict of interests.
The code of conduct forbids: Paid lobbying (attempts at altering policy) of government or public bodies. Use of “public resources”, even parliamentary premises, for work that is not performed as an MP or minister. Angela Rayner, the Labour leader, stated: “A Conservative MP using a taxpayer-funded office in Parliament to work in a tax haven facing corruption allegations is a slap in their faces and an insult to British taxpayers. “The prime minister must explain why he has a MP in his parliamentary party who treats Parliament as a co-working space that allows him to do other jobs and not represent his constituents. Sir Keir Starmer, Labour leader, has made more than £100,000.
He was asked by BBC Radio Leicester if MPs should have a second job and if he had. He said that there were “different types” of second jobs. She is a qualified healthcare professional. She has been working in A&E at her local hospital’s front line during Covid.
I believe we should clearly distinguish between these two types of cases. Wendy Chamberlain, chief whip of the Liberal Democrats, urged Sir Geoffrey not to conduct an investigation and to “come clean now.” Sajid Javid, Health Secretary, told BBC Breakfast that any MP who has external interests should be transparent and open about it. They should follow all rules, including no lobbying. “If you have an outside interest, I don’t see why you would use anything that is funded from the taxpayer. “I think that would include your offices,” he said. House of Commons Conservative PartyKeir Starmer Owen Patrick UK Parliament