'Pursuing an honourable profession': Geoffrey Cox defends second job to ITV News in first interview

The Tory MP told ITV News his actions have not eroded the public's trust in politicians and insisted his constituents got his "full commitment at all times". ITV News Political Correspondent David Wood has the latest on the Tory sleaze allegations

Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Cox has spoken for the first time since it emerged he had a second job in the Caribbean amid a slew of Tory sleaze allegations, in an exclusive interview with ITV News.

Sir Geoffrey this weekend doubled down on his defence claiming he was "pursuing an honourable profession" working for law firm Withers LLP and spending part of lockdown working from the British Virgin Islands.

He has been referred to Westminster’s rules watchdog after allegations he used his parliamentary office while working for the foreign government in a high-paying role.

When asked if he had damaged trust in politicians, the former attorney general told ITV News in Lifton, Devon: "Well I can't see why because all I've been doing is pursuing an honourable profession and looking after my constituency."

Asked if he was guilty of Tory sleaze, the senior lawyer responded: "No, of course not."

He claimed: "I'm doing in Parliament exactly what John Smith did, what Bob Marshall-Andrews did, what Alex Carlisle did, what dozens of very distinguished Labour and Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs have done for generations in Parliament, which is to practice the law."

The MP for Torridge and West Devon has refuted claims he broke parliamentary rules by taking the external job and insisted his constituents get his "full commitment at all times".

"And at all times of my time as MP of this constituency, I have given my constituents my full commitment," he continued, as he spoke outside of the Torridge and West Devon Conservative winter dinner in Lifton.

"I've been voted in many times and I look forward to abiding by the judgement of the electorate next time."

Watch Sir Geoffrey's interview with ITV News in full:

Sir Geoffrey was paid more than £54,000 for legal work in October, the most recent update to the register of MPs’ interests shows.

The sum brought his total earnings from legal work for 2021 to almost £955,000 on top of his MP’s salary of £81,932.

His comments came after he took part in a corruption inquiry via video link on Wednesday, as Boris Johnson faced fresh pressure to take action amid the escalating sleaze scandal engulfing his party.

Earlier this month, the PM said MPs who break the rules "should be punished".

He backed a ban on MPs working as paid consultants or lobbyists and insisted that anyone “prioritising outside interests” and neglecting their constituents must face investigation.

But deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: “Geoffrey Cox is taking the mick and the prime minister is letting him get away with it.”

Sir Geoffrey defended his outside interests by arguing 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”. He was asked to advise the BVI government and has described his role at the hearings as being “to assist the public inquiry in getting to the truth”.