09 Nov 2021

Withers praises consultant Cox amid row over MP’s remote work in Caribbean

Firm says it ‘very much values’ politician's 'huge depth of expertise’ as his lucrative commercial work draws fire

Geoffrey Cox leaving Downing Street in 2019 when he was attorney general Shutterstock

Top 30 UK law firm Withers has praised the work of its consultant global counsel, Sir Geoffrey Cox QC, after the sitting Member of Parliament (MP) was accused today of taking advantage of Covid-19 rules to work remotely from the Caribbean.

Cox’s commercial legal work as a barrister and consultant  – in addition to his role as an MP – came under scrutiny after the Daily Mail reported that the former Attorney General had voted by proxy while working on a case earlier this year in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) .

While Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab defended his fellow Conservative MP, Labour chair Anneliese Dodds called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to investigate Cox.

A spokesperson for 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.”

Withers appointed Cox last September with a brief to advise “both its private and overseas government clients on international commercial litigation, fraud disputes, international arbitrations (both investment treaty and commercial) and public international law matters”.

In January, the BVI government appointed Withers together with ‘leading counsel’ Cox to advise it on ‘issues arising out of’ an enquiry commissioned by governor Gus Jaspert to investigate the Territory’s governance in the face of corruption allegations.

Cox’s latest declaration on the Register of Members Interests – where MPs publish details of payments they have received for additional work – show that he was has been paid £437,000 this year by Withers on top of an annual fee of £400,000 for his regular work.

That, along with some additional legal work as a barrister at Thomas More Chambers, which he helped found, makes him one of the UK’s highest-earning MPs. However, there is no suggestion he has broken any rules.

The ability of MPs to have second jobs outside Parliament has been the subject of debate in the UK after the government was forced to back down last week over a bid to reform disciplinary procedures that would have delayed the suspension of Conservative MP Owen Paterson, who was found to have breached lobbying rules while working as a consultant for two UK companies.