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Calls in UK parliament for BVI govt’s COI lawyer to be investigated

Calls in UK parliament for BVI govt’s COI lawyer to be investigated

Labour Party Members of Parliament (MP) in the United Kingdom are calling for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to launch an investigation into Sir Geoffrey Cox, QC — the lead attorney representing BVI government ministers in the Commission of Inquiry (COI).
Sir Geoffrey — an MP in the Prime Minister Johnson’s administration — is being targeted for investigation because he reportedly earned almost £900,000 through jobs outside Parliament.

According to the BBC, part of those earnings are from his wages from representing the BVI government.

According to the Register of Members’ Interests — where MPs have to declare earnings outside of Parliament — Sir Cox was paid £156,916.08 before Value-Added Tax (VAT) for 140 hours of work from the start of 2021 until September 7 in the BVI for Withers LLP.

In addition to that, the Queen’s Counsel also earned more than £280,000 with the same firm for almost 300 hours of work between January and July this year. Sir Cox has also declared on the register that from November 1, he would receive £400,000-plus VAT annually from Withers LLP for up to 41 hours of work a month.

According to the BBC, a statement by Withers Law Firm, the firm representing the Cabinet Ministers in the BVI during the ongoing COI, confirmed the MP has been working for them as a consultant global counsel since September of last year.

“As a leading QC, we very much value Sir Geoffrey’s huge depth of expertise and experience in domestic and international legal disputes,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Labour Chair Anneliese Dodds accused the Queen’s Counsel of taking advantage of the UK’s COVID-19 restrictions to work remotely from the Caribbean.

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said all Members of Parliament should be “visible in their constituencies and available to help constituents with their constituency matters”.

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

The former UK Attorney General, who represents Torridge and West Devon in Parliament, was in the Virgin Islands for a number of weeks as counsel for the government and also carried out his function as an MP which included voting in parliament.

Dodds, in her letter further said: “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. The people of Torridge and West Devon must be wondering if Geoffrey Cox is a Caribbean-based barrister or a Conservative MP.”

Sir Cox has yet to answer the reports on his earnings outside of parliament but the BBC reported that checks with his constituency office revealed the MP was abroad.

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