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Geoffrey Cox Accused of ‘Taking the Mick’ After Appearing at BVI Inquiry During Commons Sitting

© AFP 2021 / TOLGA AKMENBritain's Attorney General Geoffrey Cox arrives in Downing Street in central London on November 5, 2019 for a meeting of the cabinet
Britain's Attorney General Geoffrey Cox arrives in Downing Street in central London on November 5, 2019 for a meeting of the cabinet - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.11.2021
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PM Johnson’s sleaze scandal, triggered by a U-turn on reforms to the Parliamentary Standards Committee after a vote to save ex-Tory MP Owen Paterson from being suspended for breaching Commons lobbying rules, was compounded by a row over MPs' second jobs, with claims ex-Attorney General Geoffrey Cox made around £1 million in legal work on the side.
Amid scrutiny over MPs’ second jobs and consultancy work, former Tory minister Geoffrey Cox, accused of breaking Commons rules earlier in November, has again appeared as a lawyer for the British Virgin Islands (BVI) inquiry during a virtual call while Parliament was sitting.
The British Conservative politician and barrister, serving as Member of Parliament for Torridge and West Devon, had been hired as “consultant global counsel” by Withers, an international law firm, to advise the government of the British Virgin Islands “on private and overseas government clients”.
More recently, Cox has been counselling BVI officials on an independent inquiry into alleged corruption. He has been called out for using his parliamentary office for outside legal work that reportedly netted him over £6 million ($8 million) since 2005.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, went on Twitter to say that Geoffrey Cox was "taking the mick and the prime minister is letting him get away with it."
She underscored that this was also a "test of leadership for Boris Johnson" to see just how serious he was about stopping his MPs from having "dodgy second jobs".
Claims that the Tory MP earned hundreds of thousands of pounds from a “moonlighting” job for a tax haven in the Caribbean while continuing to vote remotely in Parliament had come amid calls for a reform of the regulations surrounding MPs’ second jobs.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, November 3, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.11.2021
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As the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced backlash triggered by the Owen Paterson “sleaze” row, Labour had questioned how Geoffrey Cox found time to “do his job as a constituency MP.”
After the new “sighting”, the opposition party questioned whether Cox was meeting the PM’s demands for MPs to put their duty to their constituents first.
“You can be an MP representing your constituents or you can represent a tax haven against our own government. You cannot be both and Boris Johnson needs to decide which Geoffrey Cox will be,” persisted Rayner.
The Conservative MP’s office was cited by The Independent as saying that Sir Geoffrey Cox, who had his background “blurred” during the Wednesday call, did not attend the hearing from his parliamentary office.
© AFP 2021 / TOLGA AKMENBritain's Attorney General Geoffrey Cox leaves number 10 Downing Street in central London on January 21, 2020, following a meeting of the cabinet
Britain's Attorney General Geoffrey Cox leaves number 10 Downing Street in central London on January 21, 2020, following a meeting of the cabinet - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.11.2021
Britain's Attorney General Geoffrey Cox leaves number 10 Downing Street in central London on January 21, 2020, following a meeting of the cabinet
Labour had previously accused the former attorney general of an “egregious, brazen breach of the rules” after footage purported to show him taking part in a hearing for the BVI government remotely from his Westminster office.
The Tory Party referred the incident to the parliamentary commissioner for standards for breaching MPs’ code, which says that members “shall ensure that their use of public resources is always in support of their parliamentary duties”.
In a statement, Geoffrey Cox said he would fully cooperate with any investigation, while insisting that he gave his constituency work “primary importance”. He added that “it is up to the electors of Torridge and West Devon whether or not they vote for someone who is a senior and distinguished professional in his field and who still practices that profession”.
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