Labour calls for investigation into MP Geoffrey Cox's job advising the British Virgin Islands

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Labour is calling for an urgent investigation into whether it is legitimate for former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox to earn hundreds of thousands of pounds advising the British Virgin Islands.

The most recent register of financial interests showed the Torridge and West Devon Conservative MP will earn more than £800,000 from Withers, an international law firm appointed by the British Virgin Islands government.

Dominic Raab, when he was foreign secretary, launched a corruption probe into the governance of the British Virgin Islands.

Now justice secretary and deputy prime minister, he said Sir Geoffrey's work is a “legitimate thing to do as long as it is properly declared”. He added it is for voters to decide whether they feel Sir Geoffrey is spending enough time on MP work.

Constituents in Torridge and West Devon tell ITV News what they think about Geoffrey Cox's taking on second jobs worth hundreds of thousands of pounds

In the latest entry to the register of MPs' financial interests, Sir Geoffrey disclosed that from September 28 this year, he will be paid £400,000 a year by Withers for up to 41 hours of work per month.

Sir Geoffrey also received from Withers this year:

  • £52,535.84 for 60 hours of work between January 25 and February 28

  • £45,354.48 for 55 hours of work between February 28 and March 26

  • £72,569.39 for 89 hours of work between March 26 and April 29

  • £156,916.08 for 140 hours of work between April 29 and May 31

  • £63,143.03 for 50 hours of work between June 1 and June 30

  • £46,716.29 for 40 hours of work between July 1 and July 31

He also registered a total of £133,603.84 for other legal work.

But Labour’s chair Anneliese Dodds wrote to the Prime Minister, saying: “The people of Torridge and West Devon must be wondering if Geoffrey Cox is a Caribbean-based barrister or a Conservative MP.”

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Ms Dodds wrote: “It appears that your former attorney general is profiting from advising an administration accused of corruption and tax avoidance.”

She added: “It seems Sir Geoffrey took advantage of Covid-related parliamentary rules and flew out to the BVI to vote by proxy from the other side of the Atlantic.

“The irony is not lost on me that he arrived in the Caribbean on the day that those MPs who actually feel a sense of duty to their constituents were debating global anti-corruption standards.”

Labour said the Prime Minister must decide whether Sir Geoffrey Cox can juggle his role as an MP and offer legal advice Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Downing Street said Boris Johnson felt an “MP’s primary job is and must be to serve their constituents and to represent their interests in Parliament”.

He said: “They should be visible in their constituencies and available to help constituents with their constituency matters.

“If they’re not doing that, they’re not doing their job and will rightly be judged on that by their constituents.”

Dominic Raab said the arrangement with the BVI was ‘legitimate’ if it was ‘properly declared’ Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was not for him to “get comfortable with” the situation.

And he told Times Radio: “In relation to the British Virgin Islands, I was the foreign secretary that commissioned a commission of inquiry, given the allegations of misgovernance and very serious ones, including criminal wrongdoing.

“Now, I’m not going to get dragged into what individual MPs do, but actually having the former attorney general – and it wasn’t my decision, he was hired by the government of the BVI to advise them on how to correct and deal (with) and address those allegations – actually, is a legitimate thing to do as long as it’s properly declared.

“And, of course, it’s quite important in that Parliament, which is responsible residually for some areas of our relationship with the overseas territories, we’ve got some knowledge of what’s going on in those territories.”

Former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox is Conservative MP for Torridge and West Devon Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Other allegations being investigated by the foreign office against the British Virgin Islands are that public servants, community leaders and people in the media had been intimidated.

It was also claimed that money meant for struggling families during the Covid pandemic had been “reallocated to political allies”, and government contracts had been awarded without any proper procurement process.

Sir Geoffrey’s office has been contacted for comment.

The row comes amid another allegation of Tory sleaze. On Wednesday, MPs voted to overhaul the standards system that ruled MP Owen Paterson had repeatedly lobbied ministers and officials for two companies that paid him more than £100,000 per year as a consultant.

Ministers U-turned on the decision hours later after backlash.