The legal profession has taken centre stage in the ongoing political row over MPs’ second jobs, sparked by Conservative MP Owen Paterson’s resignation from parliament.
Attention switched to the £900,000 paid to former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox QC in the past year for legal work and consultancy services. This includes £468,000 from international firm Withers in return for an expected commitment of up to 48 hours a month. The firm told the Gazette that the consultancy arrangement remains in place, and Cox has said he has always been clear with constituents about his work outside parliament.
At prime minister’s questions last week, Boris Johnson attempted to turn the focus on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s work for London firm Mishcon de Reya. Starmer’s register of members’ interests records these payments were all for legal advice given before he became leader.
Meanwhile, Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey cancelled a consultancy agreement with international firm Herbert Smith Freehills under which he received £5,000 a month for a six-hour commitment. A party spokesperson said the payments had funded care for Davey’s severely disabled son.