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The former attorney general has been under fire following the disclosure that he stands to make more than £1 million, on top of his annual MP’s salary of £81,000, representing the British Virgin Islands in a corruption inquiry .
Labour has lodged a formal complaint with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards after a video emerged showing him apparently taking part in one of the hearings remotely from his Commons office.
Under Westminster rules MPs are barred from using their parliamentary offices for outside business, although Sir Geoffrey has said he is confident that he has not done anything wrong.
We recognise that there can be a perception of personal gain if an MP receives rental income from their own property while living in an Ipsa-funded flat
Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority
However, the claims have led to a renewed focus on the expenses of the MP for Torridge and West Devon.
As an MP with a constituency outside London, he is entitled to claim accommodation costs for staying in the capital.
According to his submissions to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) – which sets MPs’ pay and expenses – until 2017 he was claiming between £8,000 and £9,000 a year in “associated costs,” such as utility bills and service charges on a property he owned.
But from 2018 his claims rose to £22,000 a year after he moved into a rented property.
At the same time, his declaration in the Register of Members’ Interests showed that from November 2017 he was collecting more than £10,000 a year renting out a residential property in London.
According to the Mirror, the property is a flat in a plush mansion block in Battersea, where he had previously been living.
The arrangement is permitted under Ipsa rules. An Ipsa document in 2017 acknowledged that such arrangements could be controversial but advised against any change to the rules.
“We recognise that there can be a perception of personal gain if an MP receives rental income from their own property while living in an Ipsa-funded flat,” it said.
“However, our view has not changed that an MP’s personal financial situation is not a relevant ‘test’ for whether they should receive support from Ipsa.
“We do not want to judge an MP’s private arrangements and whether or not they should live in a property they own.
“Our concern is to ensure that MPs have the appropriate support they need to carry out their parliamentary roles, including suitable accommodation in two locations.”
In March 2019, the Sunday Telegraph reported that Sir Geoffrey, who was attorney general at the time, had been forced to apologise to the Standards Commissioner, Kathryn Stone, for the late declaration of rental payments.
The paper said Land Registry records showed that he originally bought the flat with his wife, Jean, for £535,000 in 2004.
A spokeswoman for the MP said: “Sir Geoffrey has acted at all times within the rules set by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.”