Geoffrey Cox (British politician)

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Geoffrey Cox
QC MP
Geoffrey cox wiki portrait.jpg
Geoffrey Cox QC MP
Member of Parliament
for Torridge and West Devon
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by John Burnett
Majority 18,403 (32.5%)
Personal details
Born (1960-04-30) 30 April 1960 (age 56)
Wroughton, Wiltshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Jeanie Cox
Children 3
Alma mater Downing College, Cambridge
Website www.geoffreycox.co.uk

Charles Geoffrey Cox,[1] QC, MP (born 30 April 1960) is an English barrister who, as a Conservative Party Member of Parliament (MP), has been representing the constituency of Torridge and West Devon since 2005.

Early life[edit]

Born in the Wiltshire village of Wroughton, Cox was educated at King's College, Taunton, and Downing College, Cambridge, where he read Law and Classics.

Legal career[edit]

Called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1982, he started practice as a barrister and, in 1992, co-founded Thomas More Chambers, serving as its Head of Chambers. He was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 2003.[2]

For part of his career as a barrister, Cox was Standing Counsel to the government of the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius. His cases include "civil fraud and asset recovery, commercial, human rights, defamation, and judicial review actions". He has frequently appeared as leading counsel in the Supreme Court or the Privy Council and he is increasingly instructed to lead in commercial actions and arbitrations overseas, appearing in the DIFC, Mauritius and the Cayman Islands.[2]

His criminal cases have included the Jubilee line corruption trial, representing the controversial multi-millionaire Nicholas van Hoogstraten, representing Virendra Rastogi the owner of RBG Resources[3] and successfully defending Kingsman Darren Fallon of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, who had been accused of War Crimes related to the death of Baha Mousa.[4] His practice has also included a wide range of commercial, human rights and constitutional cases both in the UK and overseas. In 2014, Cox successfully defended the former Premier (and current Leader of the Opposition) of the Cayman Islands, McKeeva Bush, on corruption and Misuse of Office charges.[5] In March 2015, Cox successfully defended the deputy Editor of The Sun Geoff Webster in a trial of 4 journalists resulting from Operation Elveden.[6] The jury had to decide at what point the behaviour of those on trial could be considered a criminal rather than a serious disciplinary matter and even the lawyers found this difficult to define.[7] Cox subsequently publicly criticized the vagueness of the law and its disproportionate use which led to the prosecution.[6]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Cox was first selected to stand for Parliament in 2000 by the Torridge and West Devon Conservatives. In the following 2001 general election, he was narrowly defeated by the Liberal Democrat John Burnett reducing his majority to 1,194 votes.

After the 2001 election Cox was reselected. In 2003 John Burnett announced he would not be contesting the seat again and, at the 2005 general election, Cox defeated the new Liberal Democrat candidate, David Walter, with a majority of 3,236.

Between 2005 and 2010 the boundaries of the constituency were changed and a substantial part of West Devon Borough was transferred from Torridge and West Devon into the newly created Central Devon constituency.

Cox made his maiden speech in the House of Commons on 28 June 2005, which was voted by fellow MPs one of the four best maiden speeches of the parliament.

Cox is a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee.

Cox was re-elected as MP for Torridge and West Devon at the 2015 general election with a substantially increased majority of 18,403 votes or 32.5%.

In February 2016, Cox told the House of Commons that he had concluded after examining the published renegotiation proposals that the case for leaving the EU was now overwhelming and that he would vote to do so in the referendum.

Tax avoidance allegations[edit]

In September 2014, it was reported that Cox was one of a number of individuals investing in the Phoenix Film Partners LLC scheme run by Ingenious PLC which HMRC has alleged to be a tax avoidance scheme. Ingenious claimed the scheme had been submitted to HMRC for pre-approval and that HMRC had not raised any objections. Cox has said that if the scheme is a tax avoidance scheme, it would have contradicted his instructions to the financial advisers to whom he specified that he did not wish to be involved in aggressive tax avoidance.[8] The tax status of the scheme is due to be considered at a tribunal later in 2015.

Second career debate[edit]

Cox has continued to practice as a Queens Counsel whilst an MP.[2] According to the Daily Telegraph, based on the declarations in the register of members' interests, Cox's extra-parliamentary work was worth £820,867 in 2014 or 12 times his annual MP salary, whilst the total time on extra-parliamentary work that was registered in 2014 (although the register shows the hours were worked over 3 years) was 1,954 hours.[9] Cox has previously defended his outside work pointing out that MPs of all parties have practised as QCs over the years and the Attorney General and Solicitor General are normally chosen from their ranks.[10] He argued that he has always been used to long hours and that the Nolan report concluded that Parliament needed people with current experience of a wide range of professional and other backgrounds.[10]
However, in 2016 the Standards Committee of which he was a member found he had committed a serious breach of a House of Commons rule after omitting to register £400k of outside earnings (11 payments) for legal work within the 28-day deadline. The payments were registered variously between 2 and 7 months late; Cox admitted that he had failed to prioritize the rule in the midst of an intense political and professional schedule. When first registering the payments, in September 2015, Cox apologized to the Registrar for his omission, referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner and stepped down from the Committee. The Commissioner and the Committee accepted that the payments had not in fact given rise to any conflicts of interest and that the failure to register the payments within 28 days had thus had no practical effect. However, the former Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life Alistair Graham criticized the lack of punishment and called for a complete reform whilst Martin Bell said the committee had a long history of inflicting light punishment and showed the house was incapable of regulating itself.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Cox and his wife Jeanie live in West Devon and are the parents of one daughter and two sons.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The London Gazette: no. 59418. p. 8741. 13 May 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "Thomas More Chambers:Geoffrey Cox QC". Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  3. ^ "Fraudster tycoon with Mayfair flat is given £5 million legal aid". Evening Standard. 2 March 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2015. 
  4. ^ Williams, A.T. (18 October 2012). A Very British Killing. Jonathan Cape. p. 200. ISBN 0224096885. 
  5. ^ James Whittaker (10 October 2014). "Courtroom theater draws crowds". Cayman Compass. Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  6. ^ a b "Sun journalist's lawyer queries use of 'vague' law". BBC news. 21 March 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  7. ^ Lisa O'Carroll (20 March 2015). "Acquittal of four senior Sun journalists seen as blow to CPS". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  8. ^ NDJFayeG (17 September 2014). "HMRC probes company in which MP Geoffrey Cox invested". North Devon Journal. Retrieved 1 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Lyndsey Telford and Luke Heighton (22 February 2015). "The MPs who topped up their salaries with £1,600-an-hour second jobs". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  10. ^ a b Geoffrey Cox (4 June 2013). "Experience of world of work must not be lost in Commons". Western Morning News. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  11. ^ Laura Hughes (4 February 2016). "Tory MP Geoffrey Cox will only have to apologise after failing to declare hundreds of thousands of pounds". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 February 2016. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Burnett
Member of Parliament for Torridge and West Devon
2005–present
Incumbent