Why Tory MP Geoffrey Cox is in even MORE hot water of sleaze row

Kay Burley grills Paul Scully over Geoffrey Cox row

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Geoffrey Cox is the new hot point in the ongoing sleaze row concerning MP standards. The allegations against the former attorney general keep rolling in with one of his former cabinet colleagues revealing the extensive amount he was paid for his legal work was widely known and had been declared publicly. Sir Geoffrey has denied breaching any rules, but this is not stopping the onslaught of accusations which are falling on the shoulders of the barrister. The latest include allegations against the Conservative Party MP are that he rented out his London home while claiming £1,900 a month for a second property.

The MP for Torridge and West Devon is now facing conflict of interest accusations after it emerged he had lobbied against imposing tougher financial regulation on the Cayman Islands just months after he gained more than £40,000 from legal firms based in the tax haven.

The Tory MP has been under the spotlight since the Owen Paterson sleaze scandal over second jobs last week.

Sir Geoffrey acquired £1 million in extra earnings from his legal and consultancy work outside his parliamentary office.

The incredible figure has garnered much criticism, with many raising questions about his time commitment to his MP role funded by the public purse.

The Conservative MP also rents out a London flat to help fund his life, according to The Mirror.

He even claimed £3,800 for his new place for two months while working overseas, it claimed.

Sir Geoffrey claimed the money for his London flat rental and also claimed an additional £1,900 for a second in the capital.

He reportedly rakes in around £1,000 a week for the home he rents out in Battersea, South London.

Sir Geoffrey is said to have purchased the home with his wife as a second residence for £535,000 in 2004.

He claimed £82,298 in mortgage interest payments in four years under the old MP expenses system.

However, in the wake of the expenses scandal, the rules around MP properties were tightened.

From 2010, the expenses for the apartment dropped, and while the former attorney general continued to use his Battersea flat whilst in London, he only claimed between £8,000 and £9,000 for utility bills and service charges each year.

In 2017, Sir Geoffrey moved into another property and began charging taxpayers £1,900 for this new residence.

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Although this move sounds in breach of the rules, it is actually perfectly legal for MPs to do this.

The latest claims of breaching MP standards rules are in addition to claims he used his House of Commons office to conduct work for a second job.

The MP has earned more than £5.5m from his work as a lawyer during his time in office, according to the Daily Mail.

He has worked 10,700 hours for the vast sum, which dwarfed his salary as an MP, official records show.

The most recent register of MPs financial interest reveals Sir Geoffrey will earn more than £800,000 from international law firm Withers.

The MP also disclosed 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.

When questioned about Sir Geoffrey, most Cabinet members have refused to specifically comment on his case.

However, it is believed the MP was given a talking to by the Tory chief whip this week, who has demanded he spends more time in the Commons and around his constituency.

This telephone call came after it emerged the MP had conducted 232 votes by proxy out of 243 from July 2020 to 2021.

The former attorney general only conducted votes in person at the Commons on two days, according to The Telegraph.

Today, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said ministers must “do better” amid the ongoing sleaze row.

He told Sky News: “Reflecting over recent events, I think for us as a Government, it’s fair to say that we need to do better than we did last week and we know that.”

Mr Sunak defended the £81,932 salary MPs receive, claiming it is fair because it is set by an independent body.

The Chancellor added: “With regard to second jobs, there’s an independent process that we have that is set by parliament that governs all of those things and it’s absolutely right that process is followed to the letter.”

Speaking earlier, the Small Business Minister Paul Scully also declined to defend his colleague.

When asked if he could see the optics “were not good”, he said: “Absolutely, I can see how it looks. It is really regrettable that we’ve got to this situation.”

Mr Scully added: “I’m not going to defend Geoffrey or say anything – that’s up to Geoffrey, it is between him and his voters.”

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