Tory MP Sir Geoffrey Cox broke his silence over revelations he had a lucrative second job working for tax havens in the Caribbean, saying he “was pursuing an honorable profession”.
The former attorney general had advised the British Virgin Islands government – through London law firm Withers LLP – during an investigation into allegations of state corruption.
He was paid over £ 54,000 for legal work in October, according to the latest update of the Parliamentary Interest Register.
This most recent statement brings his total legal income this year to almost £ 955,000, on top of his MP’s salary of £ 81,932.
Sir Geoffrey has been referred to the Westminster Rules watchdog after allegations he used his parliamentary office while advising the Caribbean island government.
He had joined Day 55 of the British Virgin Islands Commission of Inquiry via video link on Wednesday while the Commons were in session.
He described his role in the hearings as “helping the public inquiry uncover the truth”.
The revelations came as a number of Conservative MPs were accused of having had an inappropriate second job, including as lobbyists.
Sir Geoffrey told ITV News: “All I do is exercise an honorable profession and look after my constituency.”
When asked if he was guilty of sleazy, the MP for Torridge and West Devon replied: “No, of course not.”
He added: ‘I am doing in Parliament exactly what John Smith did, what Bob Marshall-Andrews did, what Alex Carlisle did, what dozens of very distinguished Labor and Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have done. for generations in Parliament, that is, to practice the law.
Sir Geoffrey defended his outside interests by asserting that “it is up to the voters of Torridge and West Devon whether or not to vote for someone who is a seasoned and distinguished professional in his field and who still practices this profession”.
He was asked to advise the BVI government and described his role in the hearings as “helping the public inquiry uncover the truth”.
Sir Geoffrey also insisted that his constituents get his “full commitment at all times.”
He continued, “I have been voted on several times and look forward to respecting the judgment of the electorate next time.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced mounting pressure to take action amid the escalating sleazy scandal engulfing his party.
Earlier this month, in a bid to reassure the public, he said MPs who break the rules “should be punished”.
Mr Johnson supported the ban on MPs working as paid consultants or lobbyists and insisted that anyone “putting outside interests” and neglecting their constituents should be investigated.
Deputy Leader of the Labor Party Angela Rayner said the sleazy scandal was a “test of leadership” for the Prime Minister.
She also said: “Geoffrey Cox takes the mick and the PM lets him get away with it.”