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Geoffrey Cox has 'earned more than £6m from his second job' since he entered parliament
11 November 2021, 00:28 | Updated: 11 November 2021, 00:41
Sir Geoffrey Cox has earned at least £6 million from his second job since he entered parliament, it has been reported.
The ex-attorney general has come under scrutiny in recent days after it was revealed he made almost £900,000 in the last year as a barrister.
He is also alleged to have taken part in a virtual meeting for his paid legal work from his House of Commons office - which is taxpayer funded.
According to records, seen by the Guardian, the under-fire MP skipped 12 recent votes on days when he was doing paid legal work.
He also earned "at least £6 million from his second job since he entered parliament", the Guardian said.
A statement on his constituency website said Sir Geoffrey had been practising as a barrister in court "well before his election in 2005", and described him as a "leading barrister in England (who) makes no secret of his professional activities".
It confirmed he was asked to advise the government of the British Virgin Islands in a public inquiry into "whether corruption, abuse of office or other serious dishonesty may have taken place in recent years in the Virgin Islands and to carry out a review of its systems of government in preparation for that inquiry".
The statement added that Sir Geoffrey "always ensures that his casework on behalf of his constituents is given primary importance and fully carried out", and it made "no difference where he was for that purpose" because of Covid restrictions at the time limiting face-to-face contact.
Sir Geoffrey could face an investigation by the Commons standards chief over the claims he used his parliamentary office for his paid legal work.
Further questions about Sir Geoffrey’s commitment to his job as MP are likely to be raised after the Guardian also discovered that he had skipped at least 12 parliamentary votes on four days when he appeared by video link in a hearing for the British Virgin Islands (BVI) authorities this autumn.
Angela Rayner, Labour's deputy leader, said the allegations would be an "egregious, brazen breach of the rules" and she had written to standards commissioner Kathryn Stone asking for "guidance" on launching an investigation.
In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Johnson stressed that MPs should always put their constituents’ interests first, and avoid paid lobbying.
Mr Johnson said it is "crucial" that MPs follow the rules around second jobs, but he refused to comment - or apologise - on any individual cases.
"On second jobs, I would say that for hundreds of years MPs have gone to Parliament and also done work as doctors, lawyers or soldiers or firefighters or writers, or all sorts of other trades and callings," he said.
"And on the whole, the UK population has understood that that has actually strengthened our democracy, because people basically feel that parliamentarians do need to have some experience of the world.
"But, if that system is going to continue today, then it is crucial that MPs follow the rules.
"And the rules say two crucial things: you must put your job as an MP first and you must devote yourself primarily and above all to your constituents and the people who send you to Westminster, to Parliament."