Geoffrey Cox, the Tory kingpin and ‘brazen’ Tory great Geoffrey Cox has been asked to make himself known to the public. His current location is still a mystery. 

Yesterday, reporters who visited his West Devon residence were informed that he was “abroad”. Meanwhile, a Government source said the Chief Whip had to reprimand Sir Geoffrey by phone, suggesting he was absent from Westminster again on another Parliamentary sitting day. 

The former Attorney General has been heavily rebuked following revelations he voted remotely in the Commons while he was in the Caribbean giving legal advice to the British Virgin Islands tax haven over a corruption case brought by the UK Foreign Office.

MailOnline today revealed that the barrister had advertised for a “senior lawyer” to aid him in his work load. Many will find this ironic, given how he is not enthusiastic about his parliamentary duties. 

The position involves ‘managing a large caseload of complex cases’ and calls for ‘professionalism, diplomacy, political awareness, attention to detail and excellent communication skills’. The salary is between £28,311 and £39,981 a year. 

Reporters visiting Sir Geoffrey Cox's West Devon home yesterday were told he was 'abroad'

Yesterday, reporters visited Sir Geoffrey Cox’s West Devon house and were informed that he is ‘abroad.

Today it emerged the barrister has been advertising for a 'senior caseworker' to help with his workload, in a move many will see as ironic. The advert was in the Tavistock Times

The barrister was advertising for a “senior lawyer” to ease his workload. Many will consider this ironic. Tavistock Times published the advertisement 

Today it emerged Sir Geoffrey has been referred to the Commons standards tsar over claims he ‘broke the rules’ by using his parliamentary office to offer legal advice to the British Virgin Islands in a case brought by the UK government.

He has been using his taxpayer-funded Westminster office to participate remotely to advise the island group in a corruption probe launched by the Foreign Office, The Times reports.

The MP, who has been paid more than £1million to work as a lawyer for clients including the BVI, was in the Caribbean in April, May and June this year and participated in Commons votes by proxy while abroad.

The footage has been updated to show him at his Commons office, London. He appears to then be performing his second task: giving legal advice about the British Virgin Islands.

Milk expenses claim

An expense for milk was claimed by the former attorney general. Sir Geoffrey Cox also tried to charge the taxpayer £2 for a box of teabags – but both claims were rejected by Parliament’s expenses watchdog.

Over the last five years, Tory earned millions of pounds for his legal work. But he has billed the taxpayer more than £850,000 in expenses – excluding staffing costs – since 2010. These claims do not seem to be against the law.

Only parliamentary work should be done by MPs in taxpayer-funded offices.

Sir Geoffrey denied that he did legal work at the office when The Times contacted him.   

Angela Rayner, Deputy Labour Leader, stated that it was an ‘egregious and brazen violation of the rules’. She has asked Kathryn Stone to guide her in starting a formal investigation into this matter.

In her letter, Ms Rayner stated that MP’s code was clear that representatives must ensure that any facilities or services received from the public purse are ‘always in support of their legislative duties’ and that they’shouldn’t confer any financial advantage on themselves.

According to media reports, she added that the member had clearly violated this rule.

“Members should be aware that the estate cannot be used for personal financial gain. If there’s a clear conflict with public interests, members must face serious consequences.” 

The most recent register of financial interests showed that Torridge and West Devon MP Sir Geoffrey will earn more than £800,000 from Withers, an international law firm appointed by the British Virgin Islands (BVI) government in January.

Sir Geoffrey also disclosed in the register that from September 28 this year until further notice, he will be paid £400,000 a year by Withers for up to 41 hours of work per month.

On September 14th, Sir Geoffrey was heard telling the Commissioner: “Forgive me for my absence during part of the morning. I’m afraid that the bell went off.” 

Sir Geoffrey has been referred to the Commons standards tsar over claims he 'broke the rules' by using his parliamentary office to offer legal advice to the British Virgin Islands

Sir Geoffrey is being referred by the Commons standards Tsar to be investigated over allegations that he broke the rules using his parliamentary office for legal advice to British Virgin Islands

The former Cabinet minister has been heavily rebuked following revelations he has been working in the Caribbean tax haven

After revelations that he was working in the Caribbean tax haven, the former cabinet minister has been severely rebuked

It could also be called the division bell. This sounds all over the Parliament Estate to warn MPs about a vote.

Sir Geoffrey is seen leaving his seat earlier, around 20 minutes before the end of the footage.

The Commons vote record of his Commons shows that he voted in-person six times on September 14, to help push for the Government’s Health and Social Care Levy.

Ms Rayner stated that this was an “egregious and brazen” violation of the rules.

“A Conservative MP using a taxpayer-funded office in Parliament for tax haven work is an insult to British taxpayers.

“The Parliamentary Commission for Standards should investigate and the Prime Minister must explain why his party has an MP who treats Parliament as a workspace that allows him to continue his work, rather than representing his constituents.

“You could be a MP representing your constituents, or a barrister for a tax haven. Boris Johnson must decide which Geoffrey Cox will represent. 

Liberal Democrats joined the fray, and Wendy Chamberlain, the party’s chief whip, urged the QC not to ‘inspect anyone’ and ‘come clean’.

New footage shows him based in his Commons office in London while appearing to carry out his second job

He appears to be doing his second job while he is based at his London Commons office.

Ms Chamberlain stated that the real insult was the timing of the vote for tax increases on millionaires who are hardworking British workers.

It comes as Cox was ordered to spend more time in Parliament on Tuesday night – as it emerged he made a second trip to a Caribbean tax haven while the Commons was sitting. 

After revelations today in the Daily Mail regarding his second lucrative job, Mark Spencer, Government Chief Whip, rebuked Spencer. 

Sources within the Government said that Mr Spencer had “reminded” him of his need to be present physically in Parliament and represent his constituents.

Downing Street disassociated itself from Mr Cox as well, with No 10’s spokesperson saying that MPs’ ‘primary jobs’ should be serving constituents.

The Mail has learned that Sir Geoffrey went back to the Caribbean to fight corruption in an investigation by the British Foreign Office.

Footage from the inquiry shows that Sir Geoffrey was present in the courtroom where the inquiry was held on the largest of the islands – Tortola – on June 22, when Parliament was sitting in London discussing Covid regulations.

On Tuesday, it was also revealed that Sir Geoffrey had been forced by his vote against tightening anti-money laundering regulations tax havens like the Cayman Islands. He defended an ex-premier against corruption. Sir Geoffrey, however, has not responded to numerous requests to comment.

The Mail can reveal that Sir Geoffrey made a second trip to the Caribbean in June as he battled to clear the BVI government in a corruption inquiry launched by the British Foreign Office. Footage from the inquiry shows that Sir Geoffrey was present in the courtroom (bottom left and centre) where the inquiry was held on the largest of the islands – Tortola – on June 22, when Parliament was sitting in London discussing Covid regulations

Mail has learned that Sir Geoffrey went back to the Caribbean to help clear the BVI government from corruption investigation launched by British Foreign Office. Footage from the inquiry shows that Sir Geoffrey was present in the courtroom (bottom left and centre) where the inquiry was held on the largest of the islands – Tortola – on June 22, when Parliament was sitting in London discussing Covid regulations

Sir Geoffrey is not accused of breaking the rules in pocketing more than £1million in outside earnings last year on top of his £82,000 MP’s salary.

Senior Tories, however, were shocked at his decision of decamping to the Caribbean to pursue a lucrative contract.

According to one source, “It’s very sad that we have to tell MPs they must put the constituents first.”

Labour called for an investigation of his conduct. Labour also stated that the Prime Minster needed to determine whether Sir Geoffrey was either a Conservative MP or a Caribbean-based barrister.

Dominic Raab (Deputy Prime Minister) initially appeared yesterday to defend Sir Geoffrey, declaring that his outside work was legal.

Raab indicated that MPs should have a good knowledge of British overseas territories such as the BVI.

As anger rose, No. 10 eventually distanced themselves from the ex-Minister of Cabinet.

A Downing Street spokesperson said that the Prime Minister thought MPs had ‘primary jobs’.

Sir Geoffrey took advantage of lockdown rules to cast votes in the Commons by proxy as he worked 4,000 miles away in the Caribbean during April and May

Sir Geoffrey used lockdown rules during April and May to vote in the Commons via proxy while he was 4,000 miles from home in the Caribbean

He stated, “They should appear in their constituents and be available to help constituents regarding their constituency issues.”

“If they aren’t doing that they don’t do their job properly and they will be held accountable by their constituents.”

Labour used the crisis to its advantage. Anneliese Dodds, the Party Chairman, wrote to PM asking him to “show leadership” and to investigate the matter.

She stated that Sir Geoffrey’s behavior suggests he would rather be a tax haven than representing the interests of his constituents.

This row about second jobs follows a recommendation by Owen Paterson, former environment secretary. The Commons Standards Committee determined that Paterson had violated the centuries-old prohibition on MPs lobbying paid.

The bitter consequences of the row saw Mr Paterson announce that he is quitting his position as North Shropshire MP. After 24 years in the post, it was an attempt to defer punishment.

Boris Johnson was a former backbencher who earned a lot of money for his Daily Telegraph columns. He suggested that members of the Commons should be more concerned with their electorates.

While refusing to comment on specific cases, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister stated that Mr Johnson believed an MP’s primary task was and should be to serve constituents as well as to represent their interests within Parliament.

A spokesperson from No. 10 stated that they should be present in constituencies, and accessible to constituents for assistance with matters related to their constituency.

“If they aren’t doing that they don’t do their job properly and they will be held accountable by their constituents.” 

Unspeakable truth: Dishonourable Member of the Virgin Islands. Shamed Geoffrey Cox has not spoken in Commons for 18 months… however, he appeared in Caribbean Court for ten consecutive days as MPs sit. 

April brought a lot of activity for MPs as the Government tried to get Britain out of lockdown and navigate the turbulent waters of Brexit, Prince Philip’s death, scandals about Boris Johnson and David Cameron’s lobbying.

Three days prior to Easter, Parliament saw an explosion of votes on issues ranging from immigration and national security to fire safety and abortion. There were many debates that lasted several hours in the afternoons. The busiest night of the week, Monday April 26, saw business not halted at 1.30am.

Throughout this period, Sir Geoffrey Cox QC, the Tory MP for Torridge and West Devon, was – on paper – beavering away at the coal-face.

While his distinctive booming voice wasn’t actually heard in the chamber, he certainly gave every appearance of justifying that juicy £81,932 MP’s salary (plus expenses), turning out to vote six times that day, three times more on the 27, and a further three times on the 28.

At least, that’s the claim of Commons Records. The reality is very different. The reality, however is very different. For each of his 12 democratic exercises, the 61 year-old ex-attorney general was able to avoid actually marching through the lobby. Instead, he took advantage of temporary Covid rules that allowed MPs to appoint a ‘proxy’ – in his case Deputy Chief Whip Stuart Andrew – to vote on his behalf.

It was designed to reduce travel and social contact during pandemics. It was meant to let them ‘work at home’.

Herein lies the rub, as Sir Geoffrey’s legendary oratorical hero William Shakespeare may call it. For the Conservative grandee was neither at his rambling constituency home near Tavistock, where he and wife Jeanie raised their three children, nor the £1.5million flat overlooking a Thames-side park in Battersea in London. He could instead be found some 4,000 miles away on Tortola (the administrative center of the British Virgin Islands). [BVI]

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox in the House of Commons on 25 September 2019

Geoffrey Cox is the Attorney General of the House of Commons, 25 September 2019.

Sir Geoffrey’s trip – at a time when most ordinary Britons were banned from taking holidays – was designed for business rather than pleasure. As the Daily Mail revealed yesterday, Sir Geoffrey actually went to the Caribbean for a high-paying second job with the international law firm Withers.

Specifically, the MP – who was sacked as the Government’s top legal officer in February 2020 – was acting on behalf of the British Overseas Territory’s government in a courtroom inquiry, ordered by the UK Foreign Office, into allegations of ‘corruption, abuse of office, or other serious dishonesty’ by its political class. This work was extremely lucrative, as we will discuss in more detail.

Commons disclosures show that Cox, who charges almost £1,000 an hour (or £16 a minute) for his legal services, earned almost £300,000 from Withers between late March and the end of April, working for 311 hours in the process. This means that he spent an average 36 hour per week on legal work in the weeks before, during, and after his visit.

In the past six months, meanwhile, Sir Geoffrey spent an astonishing 680 hours toiling away for Withers (26 hours a week, on average), raking in some £637,235.11 in the process, and taking his total annual earnings from outside work well over £1million a year.

Side hustle: Geoffrey Cox (bottom left and centre) appears at the BVI inquiry on June 22

Side hustle: Geoffrey Cox, bottom left and center appears at the BVI inquiry June 22

I also learned that Sir Geoffrey made another trip to BVI during that time, but this was in June. According to court records and a video, Sir Geoffrey attended a one-day hearing at Tortola’s International Arbitration Centre.

He sat down in a suit and viewed two paintings by watercolour of palm trees on the spot, which were located at the pier that overlooks the superyacht-filled marina.

Devon constituents, who he seems to have briefly visited in May, may wonder how their MP managed to make enough time to represent them properly.

He hasn’t raised important topics in the Commons Chamber, however.

Hansard records indicate that Sir Geoffrey did not make a single speech to Parliament in the 18 months following Boris Johnson’s dismissal from his Cabinet post in February 2020.

The only time that he spoke during this period was September 13th, just after 6.30pm. He spoke a total 839 words in a debate about a bill regarding changes to rules for dissolving parliament. It’s quite a feat for a man who, due to his distinctive voice and habit of using the despatch boxes, was nicknamed “The Tory Gandalf” during Theresa May’s post-Brexit government.

He spoke extensively about all of the questions, which was in contrast to his quiet at Westminster. On May 15, and 20, he appeared personally (having arrived three weeks before to prepare for the case), and on June 22. According to records provided via videolink, he was present on May 13, June 21 and September 14, respectively.

The growing outrage has been heightened by the fact that Parliament was present at every one of these events. As has the fact that according to Commons expense claims, he billed taxpayers £629 late last year for an iPad ‘to enable effective working while travelling etc and another £419.95 for ‘tablet’ accessories to help with ‘remote working’.’

This is permitted, however, as one Westminster source explains, “On all sides of the house people are obviously livid.”

The rules for proxy voting were intended to permit MPs stop Covid from spreading. These rules were not intended to allow you to piss abroad and make your own money, especially when it comes down the ban on normal citizens going on holidays. It is an awful, horrible look. Cox’s choice to represent the BVI government, against corruption accusations being made at the request of the UK Government is another way of provoking public outrage.

He was first involved in the investigation into allegations of corruption within the ruling class by Sir Gary Hickinbottom.

Members of the BVI government are (among other things) accused of giving £29million of Covid relief funds in cash handouts to political allies, misusing £70million of taxpayers’ money that was supposed to be spent on infrastructure projects, and wasting £23million building a pier after awarding construction contracts to cronies.

The wide-ranging inquiry is also examining a £5.1million grant given to an airline for flights to the US which never took off, and £730,000 handed to alleged political cronies in return for building a single wall at a high school.

Cox was appointed in January by the BVI to help it fight these widespread corruption claims. Because the UK’s ‘cab rank rule’, in which barristers are unable to have any control over their clients, doesn’t apply to international cases, Cox took the job.

For the tax havens, his appointment was a coup de PR. They issued press releases boasting about the arrival of former Cabinet minister on April 26.

Following the hearings, it was a bizarre scene that a British MP was paid to assist in destroying representatives from his own country at an international court case.

Cox seemed to be turning on the UK, at one point complaining that Cox’s Foreign Office-ordered investigation amounted to an judicial review almost all major decisions made by the BVI Cabinet in the previous 12-15 years. This whole situation ended in London, it’s obvious. A Whitehall insider says that the Foreign Office is “absolutely furious”.

“Here they were, trying to fight corruption in far-flung territories, they found a British MP getting paid a lot to fly there in lockdown and make a little fortune trying to free the person at the center of the inquiry.

What is all the more scandalous – to critics, at least – is that all of Cox’s lucrative outside work is entirely legal. The Commons Rules do not limit the work that MPs may take on outside, nor the cash they are allowed to earn through second, third, and even fourth jobs.

Cox managed to sometimes fall foul of these rules during his 16 year tenure in Parliament. As an example, take February 2016. MPs on the Standards Committee found that he had committed a ‘serious’ breach of rules by failing to declare more than £400,000 of outside earnings from legal work.

It has made headlines for his involvement in tax havens in the Caribbean. In 2014, taxpayers were forced to stump up £1,800 to fly him home from the Cayman Islands when Parliament was unexpectedly recalled during a recess to discuss an emergency in Iraq. In 2018, Cox supported the British Virgin Islands’ and Caymans’ governments in Parliament. He repeatedly opposed a plan to improve transparency in tax havens.

According to him, such an action would be considered as interfering with the internal affairs of countries outside of the jurisdiction of the Parliament.

What irony that sir Geoffrey the globe-trotting man should now be charged with compromising his very dignity!