cox beach

People moan, but the snorkelling's done wonders for his physique.

Withers has found itself at the centre of a good old Tory sleaze media storm after its prestigious political hire, former Attorney General and current Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Cox, was accused of neglecting his constituents in favour of a pleasant tropical setting and a lucrative salary.

Private client specialist Withers, which expanded to various exotic locales following a merger to cater for the globally wealthy, took on Sir Geoffrey in September 2020 with an agreement to pay him £468,000 a year for up to 48 hours a month. It was later revised to £400,000 for up to 41 hours' work a month.

Labour is calling for an enquiry into his second job after it emerged that in April the barrister jetted off to Withers' office in the British Virgin Isles for two months to advise the BVI government on an anti-corruption inquiry being brought against it, and that he used a proxy back in dreary Britain to cast his Commons votes.

According to parliament's Register of Members' Financial Interests, as well as his £82,000 backbencher salary and the £400k Withers salary, Cox netted an additional £437,235.11 from Withers for an extra 434 hours work undertaken between January and July 2021. 

Around £1,000 an hour appears to be the MP's going rate. In 2021 he also banked £14,999.67 from Fidlaw for 14 hours work, £25,000 from CGS Legal for 20 hours work, £4,200 from Messrs Janes for 4 hours work, and £40,279.17 from the Khan Partnership Solicitors for 41 hours work.

As at 1 November, Cox had registered legal earnings of £921,713.95 in 2021 and, allowing for two weeks' holiday, had devoted a 20 hour working week to his side gig.

MPs are allowed to take second jobs, and while the spectacle of a lawyer earning a fortune in the Caribbean is political catnip, it is Cox's apparent breach of rules forbidding MPs from using public resources for "personal or financial benefit" which may trip him up. Video footage from September appeared to show the Withers consultant taking part in a virtual hearing for his BVI inquiry from his Commons office.

At points in the call which corresponded with parliamentary votes, the barrister excuses himself from the meeting, asking the other attendees to "Forgive my absence during some of the morning. I'm afraid the bell went off".

A statement on his website said he had referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, but that, "He does not believe that he breached the rules".

"Sir Geoffrey regularly works 70-hour weeks and always ensures that his casework on behalf of his constituents is given primary importance and fully carried out," the statement said, adding that he checked with the Conservative chief whip whether it was okay to vote remotely from a sun lounger "and was advised that it was appropriate".

Withers said, "Sir Geoffrey Cox has been working with Withers as Consultant Global Counsel since September 2020. As a leading QC, we very much value Sir Geoffrey's huge depth of expertise and experience in domestic and international legal disputes". And please, please can the spotlight swing onto a different MP, please. Perhaps Nadine Dorries used her office to audition for Celebrity Bake Off, or a tour party caught Gavin Williamson eating flies for cash.


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Anonymous 12 November 21 09:22

Still not voting for Corbyn.

He wants us all to use one gigantic bathroom together, like ISIS.

Gobblepig 12 November 21 09:54

It's not a good look, but there's no evidence (as yet) that he was "neglecting his constituents". Perhaps he was industriously holding Zoom surgeries with them throughout the working week. 

Lydia 12 November 21 10:03

I suspect no law was broken. If so then this is just jealousy of others or else if the Government wants to it could change the rules/laws.

Anonymous 12 November 21 10:04

Mixed views on this. Given some of the very average partners in the city making millions, its hard to get too worked up. 

However, I'm a bit cross about the stories circulating about him expensing the mortgage on his London property and renting it out. If that is true, I'm sure it is all legal and in compliance with the Members Code of Conduct, but just feels like greed.

How do you justify taking that money from the public purse when many of his constituents are relying on foodbanks?

Anonymous 12 November 21 10:27

Boris happily lobbing Cox under the gold-painted Rolls-Royce as the giant distraction squirrel from his own massive cock up on sleaze.

Human 13 November 21 21:00

Good news is that 47 percent of this gets clawed back in income tax and national insurance.

You don't get what you don't pay for 14 November 21 19:00

The scandals are a) that MPs are now paid less than the ever higher NQ salaries we see on this site week after week, with the ensuing "talent pool" resembling a puddle b) that people working second jobs are being criticised for it. The legit criticism is of people whose second jobs are glorified lobbying payments. Plus of Bojo for [many answers valid].

Anonymous 15 November 21 16:45

As I understood it: Mr Cox was representing BVI over allegations of corruption. The investigation was instigated by the Foreign Office. 

So the parties in the case were: HM Government v BVI. 

How can an MP with clear access to all of his mates in Gov't not find himself in a conflict in these circumstances. In any other facet of professional business, this would be a huge no-no. 


Am I missing something?

Anonymous 18 November 21 16:28

16th @ 11.13 - people upvoting their own comments multiple times, among other things.

Anon 18 November 21 20:07

Anon 16 November 21 11:13: it is very telling that no evidence has been provided, despite multiple requests. The only conclusion is that there was no unfairness and Lester was guilty.

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