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Ex-attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox defends second job

Former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox has defended having a second job while serving as a Tory MP as he insisted he is 'pursuing an honourable profession' by working as a barrister. 

Sir Geoffrey rejected the idea that he had damaged trust in politicians amid an ongoing sleaze row in Westminster.

He insisted his Torridge and West Devon constituents 'get my full commitment at all times'. 

He told ITV News he had been 'voted in many times and I look forward to abiding by the judgement of the electorate next time'.     

Former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox has defended having a second job while serving as a Tory MP as he insisted he is 'pursuing an honourable profession' by working as a barrister

Sir Geoffrey was accused by Labour last week of 'taking the mick' after he took part in a Zoom hearing for an inquiry into corruption in the British Virgin Islands. 

He sparked a huge political row and heaped pressure on Boris Johnson after it was revealed he voted remotely from the Caribbean during lockdown while working his £1million second job.

He also conducted a hearing at the corruption commission by video-link from his parliamentary office, prompting calls for an investigation.   

Sir Geoffrey has attempted to ride out the storm, issuing just one statement since it erupted, and making a few small appearances in the Commons.

Speaking publicly on the matter for the first time, Sir Geoffrey was asked if he was guilty of 'Tory sleaze'. 

He replied: ‘No, of course not. I am 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 practise the law.’

Asked by ITV News if he believed he had damaged the public's trust in politicians, Sir Geoffrey replied: 'Well, I can’t see why because all I have been doing is pursuing an honourable profession and looking after my constituency which is what I am doing now.’

He added: ‘They (the electorate) get my full commitment at all times which is what I am doing this evening… and at all times of my time as MP in this constituency I have given my constituents my full commitment.

‘I have been voted in many times and I look forward to abiding by the judgement of the electorate next time.’

In his initial statement Sir Geoffrey said he did not believe he broke the rules by on one occasion 'being in his office while participating in an online hearing in the public inquiry and voting in the House of Commons'.

The Torridge and West Devon MP was accused of 'taking the mick' after he took part in a Zoom hearing for an inquiry into corruption in the British Virgin Islands last week

'He understands that the matter has been referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner and he will fully cooperate with her investigation,' the statement said. 

'He does not believe that he breached the rules but will of course accept the judgment of the Parliamentary Commissioner or of the Committee on the matter.' 

The most recent register of financial interests showed that 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.