Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox blamed General Election pressure and opening new law chambers overseas for breach.

Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox has apologised for failing to declare more than £400,000 in income on time.

The MP, who works as a QC, made a formal apology in the House of Commons for the six payments for his legal services between January and August 2015.

Mr Cox first drew the matter of the late payments to the attention of the registrar in September last year, and referred himself to the Standards Committee.

He blamed the ‘intense schedule’ in the run up to the General Election, as well as the launch of two new international law chambers in Mauritius and Dubai, for the breach.

The Standards report by Kathryn Hudson stated: “He told me, and I can only agree, that he ‘failed to give this matter the due thought and priority it required’.”

An investigation by the Standards Committee – from which Mr Cox stepped down following the late payments – acknowledged his apology.

But Ms Hudson’s report concluded: ‘This was a serious breach of the House’s rules and the committee may wish to consider whether any other action is necessary.’

Mr Cox addressed parliament with an official apology, and said: “In 2009 the House resolved that honourable members should register all outside earnings within 28 days of their receipt whether connected to their parliamentary period or not.

“For a prolonged period last year I very much regret that I failed to comply with that order in respect of my professional earnings as a barrister.

“The House has a right to expect its members, and particularly those in the standards committee as I was that they will uphold its rules to the fullest extent.

“For this reason I have stepped down from the standards committee and I hope that the house will accept my sincere and full hearted apology for my failure to observe this important rule.”