Friday, December 3

Geoffrey Cox Raised At Least £ 6 Million For His Second Job While He Was Parliamentarian | Geoffrey cox


Sir Geoffrey Cox has made at least £ 6 million from his second job since entering parliament, an analysis by The Guardian reveals, and records show he skipped 12 recent votes in the days he was doing paid legal work.

The revelations came as Boris Johnson, the prime minister, took the unusual step of trying to reassure the public that the UK “was not even remotely a corrupt country” while the Conservative Party remained embroiled in a series of sordid accusations.

However, Johnson did not deliberately defend Cox, whose earnings since becoming a Conservative MP in 2005 have come under intense scrutiny in recent days following revelations that he spent a month in the British Virgin Islands this year doing legal work. paid.

More questions are likely to arise about Cox’s commitment to his work as a deputy after The Guardian also discovered that he had missed at least 12 parliamentary votes in four days when he appeared via video link at a hearing for the Islands authorities. British Virgins (BVI). this autumn.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Johnson stressed that MPs should always put the interests of their constituents first and avoid paid lobbying.

Johnson added: “The rules say … you must put your work as a deputy first and you must dedicate yourself primarily and above all to your constituents and the people who send you to Westminster, to parliament. The most important thing is that those who break the rules should be investigated and punished ”.

He spoke a week after flogging Tory MPs into backing an amendment that sought to avoid punishment for Owen Paterson, a former cabinet minister who was found to have repeatedly engaged in paid lobbying, breaking the system of parliamentary standards.

Labor deputy director Angela Rayner condemned Johnson’s failure to apologize for the Paterson fiasco. “Boris Johnson’s refusal to apologize shows that he does not care to address the corruption that has gripped Downing Street, his government and the Conservative Party,” he said. “He thinks it’s a rule for him and another rule for everyone else.”

Johnson, speaking in Glasgow, where he was making a brief visit to the COP26 climate talks, said there should be “appropriate sanctions” for MPs who “are not putting the interests of their constituents first.”

Cox, a former attorney general, originally came under scrutiny when the Daily Mail reported that he had been voting by proxy for the BVI where he worked during part of the pandemic, representing BVI authorities in an investigation into the corruption allegations ordered by the Foreign Office.

He now faces questions about his behavior after MPs were forced to vote in person again after June, including whether he prioritized his paid legal appearances over attending parliamentary proceedings.

Cox has been contacted to comment on whether the party allowed any absences to do paid work.

A Whitehall whistleblower who worked with Cox defended his continuing to work as a lawyer, saying that for most MPs the role in parliament “makes them money” but his “makes him lose money.”

Last month alone, Cox missed eight votes on the environment bill, one on a layoff and rehiring bill, and one on the Independent Expert Panel Recommendations Act for Sanctions and Retirement of the parliamentarians of 2015.

He was also absent from a Labor opposition day debate on reduced living standards in September, and one on small businesses in October. On all dates, October 22, 20 and 19 and September 21, he appeared in the public inquiry, according to videos on the British Virgin Islands Commission of Inquiry website. From his background video, it’s unclear where Cox was at those times.

On a fifth occasion, on September 14, Cox appeared to be present in a parliamentary office while on video for the investigation, leading to a complaint that he had violated rules prohibiting MPs from using Commons facilities for jobs. private.

In making his first public comments on the matter Wednesday, Cox did not deny that he had used his parliamentary office for paid work. He insisted that “he regularly works 70 hours a week and always ensures that his social work is given paramount importance on behalf of his constituents and is fully carried out.”

A statement read: “Regarding the allegation that he violated the parliamentary code of conduct on one occasion, on September 14, 2021, by being in his office while participating in an online public inquiry hearing and voting in the House Commons understands that the matter has been referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner and that he will cooperate fully with his investigation. He does not believe that he has broken the rules, but of course he will accept the judgment of the parliamentary commissioner or the commission on the matter. “

The Whips’ office believes that Cox qualified for a proxy vote earlier in the year and that Whip leader Mark Spencer was told beforehand that he would be working on a large overseas case.

However, a source insisted that it was not correct for the government to necessarily approve of his location and what he was doing. “It is not our place to sanction the locations and travel plans of the deputies, even if he was taking them off a nice sunny island.”

Some Tory MPs are furious at what they see as liberties taken by the “old guard,” including Cox. One predicted there would be a “big problem” with the Whips’ office given the level of dissatisfaction, saying, “We are headed for civil war.”

A spokesman for the whip boss said: “Some 330 Conservative MPs and a majority of opposition MPs were given … proxy votes to help tackle the pandemic at a time when parliamentary authorities were actively discouraging physical assistance to the Commons.

Videos of the BVI investigation show that Cox made arguments against “open records” for the interests of politicians in the June public inquiry.

He told the investigation: “Let me be quite frank. There are real drawbacks to opening records. It becomes a political tool for every … many, many, frivolous complaints. It is a deep invasion of a legislator’s private life, because what happens is, as you can imagine, that stories are written, minor infractions are written to make them morally shameful or even to impute dishonesty ”.

Cox also faces a conflict of interest claim after it emerged that he had lobbied against the imposition of stricter financial regulations in the Cayman Islands just months after winning more than £ 40,000 from tax haven-based law firms.

On Wednesday, Cox’s whereabouts remained a mystery, despite his statement. Staff in the MP’s office declined to answer questions about where he was, or even if he was in the UK.

Officials from the BVI commission of inquiry, for which Cox represents some government ministers on corruption allegations, said they did not know if or when he would return to the Caribbean.

In his most recent role in the investigation, October 19-22, Cox appeared at the hearing sessions for nearly 30 hours in total. While he was listed in the official transcript as if he was there in person, the associated video footage showed Cox virtually appearing, but with the background blurred, which meant it was difficult to tell where he might be. An investigating official said it appeared remotely.


www.theguardian.com

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