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Geoffrey Cox: Labour calls for probe into MP's work for British Virgin Islands - BBC information

Image source, Reuters

Labour has called for a standards investigation into a possible rule breach by Sir Geoffrey Cox - after a clip appeared to show him using his MP's office to carry out private work for the British Virgin Islands inquiry.

The Conservative MP has earned more than £700,000 for advising the inquiry.

Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner said he appeared to be in "brazen breach of the rules".

The BBC has contacted Sir Geoffrey, a former attorney general, for comment.

Last month, Conservative Owen Paterson was found to have broken rules by lobbying the government on behalf of companies who were paying him - and for using his parliamentary office for business meetings.

His case has raised questions about the extra work some MPs do on top of their parliamentary jobs.

MPs are allowed to do extra jobs - for example some work as doctors or even football referees, while others write books or give speeches - but they must declare their additional income along with gifts and donations.

Sir Geoffrey, 61, has been an MP since 2005. In addition to representing Torridge and West Devon, he has continued to work as a lawyer - a job which saw him earning almost £900,000 a year.

This work includes advising the British Virgin Islands government inquiry into alleged corruption.

Video footage from September is available online of Sir Geoffrey participating in a virtual hearing for the inquiry from what appears to be his Commons office.

Labour has suggested this could be a breach of the parliamentary code of conduct which states that MPs should ensure facilities paid for by the public purse "always support their parliamentary duties".

It adds that the use of public resources should not "confer any undue personal or financial benefit on themselves".

Image source, PA Media/BVI Commission
Image caption,

Video of a remote inquiry hearing shows Sir Geoffrey in what appears to be his Commons office

Last month, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone found that Mr Paterson had breached these rules by holding meetings in his parliamentary office with companies who were paying him.

Labour has now asked Ms Stone to carry out an investigation into Sir Geoffrey.

Ms Rayner said: "A Conservative MP using a taxpayer funded office in Parliament to work for a tax haven facing allegations of corruption is a slap in the face and an insult to British taxpayers.

"The prime minister needs to explain why he has an MP in his parliamentary party that treats Parliament like a co-working space allowing him to get on with all of his other jobs instead of representing his constituents."

The Liberal Democrats' chief whip Wendy Chamberlain urged Sir Geoffrey to "save everyone the time and trouble of an investigation" and "come clean now".

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