Geoffrey Cox, the flamboyant barrister who successfully defended former Cayman Islands premier McKeeva Bush in court, was named this week among the top-earning British members of parliament.
Only former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown earns more than Mr. Cox from second jobs and outside interests. An analysis of parliamentary records by The Guardian newspaper revealed that 26 MPs earn more from directorships, paid employment or shareholdings than from their parliamentary salary. The basic salary for an MP is £67,060 (approximately CI88,000).
Mr. Brown topped the list, declaring almost a half-million pounds in earnings from public speaking and book advances, though the article noted that he did not benefit personally from these contributions.
Mr. Cox led the rest of the field, declaring some £368,322 in “outside earnings” from legal work. The QC is a backbencher in the Conservative party in the constituency of Torridge and West Devon.
He spent just over a month in the Cayman Islands recently for the trial of Mr. Bush on charges of abusing the public’s trust.
Mr. Cox’s theatrical style and merciless interrogation of witnesses made him a favorite with the more partisan supporters in the public gallery. Mr. Bush was eventually cleared on all charges.
But Mr. Cox’s expert advocacy clearly did not come cheap. An earlier report in The Times newspaper revealed that the QC earned £405,172 in 2012 from his legal profession. At that time, Mr. Cox declared that he was working 60-80 hours a month outside of his parliamentary duties.
The idea of MPs taking on lucrative second jobs has caused some concern in the U.K. amid suggestions that it detracts from their constituency work.
But Mr. Cox defended the practice in a video interview with The Times in 2012. He said barristers, like surgeons, had to keep working to maintain their skills and insisted he could balance the work he took on with his parliamen He said, “It is a lot of money, but on the other hand, my ability to command that sort of remuneration has been based on 30 years of hard work.”
He said he had built up a solid and distinguished reputation in the legal profession and insisted it made sense for MPs to be allowed to continue their outside work. The alternative, he said, was a closeted house of “machine politicians” with no experience of real life.