COMMONS

Comittee on Standards publish their report on Geoffrey Cox QC

25 July 2019

The Committee on Standards publishes a report on the conduct of Rt Hon Geoffrey Cox QC MP. A detailed memorandum from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is appended to the report. Associated evidence has been published on the Committee on Standards website.

The Committee is grateful to the Commissioner for her inquiry into the registration of a financial interest in a property owned by Mr Cox, which was undertaken at her own initiative.

The Committee is grateful to the Commissioner for her inquiry into the registration of a financial interest in a property owned by Mr Cox, which was undertaken at her own initiative.

MPs are required to register interests in accordance with their Code of Conduct and the Guide to the Rules relating to the conduct of Members. They must record any change to their registrable interests within 28 days.

Mr Cox informed the Commissioner in January 2019 that his financial interest in a property he owned had become registerable in September 2018.

It appeared, therefore, that Mr Cox had registered his interest more than three months after the deadline.

He apologised for this oversight, and the Commissioner exercised her discretion to deal with the case by way of the rectification procedure, without reference to the Committee on Standards.

It subsequently transpired that Mr Cox’s interest in the property had actually first become registerable in November 2017, 10 months earlier than the date which he had given to the Commissioner. When he realised this was the case, Mr Cox offered a further apology to the Commissioner, saying that this error had arisen from a misunderstanding of the interpretation of the rules.

The Commissioner took the view that, as this was a second error relating to the same interest, she should refer the matter to the Committee on Standards.

The Committee notes that the facts of the matter are not in dispute and that Mr Cox has acknowledged and apologised for the two errors: the first arose from an oversight and the second from a genuine misunderstanding.

It accepts, as does the Commissioner, that there was no intention to deceive.

It does not consider that these constitute serious breaches of the rules, but observes that because there was more than one error, the Commissioner acted rightly in referring the matter to them.

The Committee also notes that Mr Cox, as Attorney General, is the chief Law Officer of the Crown, as well as being an experienced Member of the House, and therefore should set a good example by scrupulous observance of the rules.

The Committee recommends that Mr Cox should at the earliest opportunity apologise in writing to the House, through the Committee, for having registered a financial interest late and for having, albeit unintentionally, supplied wrong information about the date at which the interest became registerable.

The written apology, when received, will be published on the Committee’s website.

The lay members of the Committee played a full and active part in drawing up the Committee’s report, with which they are in agreement.

Further information

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