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Friday, May 20, 2022

Government’s COI attorney responds to flak

Government’s COI attorney responds to flak

In response to heavy criticism and calls from parliamentarians in the United Kingdom for him to be investigated, Queen’s Counsel (QC) Sir Geoffrey Cox said he does not believe he did anything wrong in representing the BVI government in the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI).

The statement posted on Sir Geoffrey’s website said he is a leading barrister in England and makes no secret of his professional activities.

“He was asked to advise the Attorney General and the elected Government of BVI, a British Overseas Territory, in a public inquiry into whether corruption, abuse of office or other serious dishonesty may have taken place in recent years in the Virgin Islands and to carry out a review of its systems of government in preparation for that Inquiry,” the statement read.

“Prior to accepting the role, he sought and obtained the approval of the Office of the Attorney General of England and Wales that there would be no conflict of interest with his former role as Attorney General,” it added.

Sir Geoffrey said his involvement is not to ‘defend’ a tax haven or defend any wrongdoings as it has been inaccurately reported in the press, but to assist the public inquiry in getting to the truth.

“No evidence of tax evasion or personal corruption has been adduced before the Inquiry and if it had been, that person would have been required to seek their own representation,” the statement said.

The statement further said Sir Geoffrey continued to have online meetings with organisations, businesses and individuals within his constituency during his time abroad. It mentioned online meetings were feasible since it was not practical or desirable to meet face-to-face with these people.

With regards to voting in the UK Parliament by proxy, the statement said Sir Cox had consulted the Chief Whip in the UK House on working from abroad and it said he was advised that it was appropriate.

In closing the statement, the Queen’s Counsel said the decision is up to the electors of Torridge and West Devon whether they vote for him or not. The statement said whatever his constituents decide, that is the decision by which he would abide.

Cox’s earnings from BVI

According to the UK parliament’s Register of Members’ Interests — where MPs have to declare earnings outside of Parliament — Sir Cox was paid £156,916.08 before Value-Added Tax (VAT) for 140 hours of work from the start of 2021 until September 7 in the BVI for Withers LLP.

In addition to that, the Queen’s Counsel also earned more than £280,000 with the same firm for almost 300 hours of work between January and July this year. Sir Cox has also declared on the register that from November 1, he would receive £400,000-plus VAT annually from Withers LLP for up to 41 hours of work a month.


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