Co-op Bank ex-boss Paul Flowers 'filmed buying drugs'

Mr Flowers, who is also a Methodist minister, said he had done things that were "stupid and wrong."

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The former Co-op Bank chairman has apologised after a newspaper reported he bought and used illegal drugs after appearing before a committee of MPs.

A video on the Mail on Sunday website shows Paul Flowers, who is also a Methodist minister, handing over £300 in a car, apparently to buy cocaine.

He was filmed by an acquaintance who said they met online.

Mr Flowers said he had done things that were "stupid and wrong" and was seeking professional help.

'Difficult year'

The Mail on Sunday alleges that Mr Flowers, who left the Co-op in June this year - five months before his recent appearance at the Treasury Committee - handed over money for cocaine last weekend.

Stuart Davies, who made the film, told the paper he exposed the Methodist minister because he was disgusted by his hypocrisy.

Start Quote

At the lowest point in this terrible period, I did things that were stupid and wrong”

End Quote Paul Flowers Former chairman of Co-op bank

In a statement released via the Methodist Church, Mr Flowers said: "This year has been incredibly difficult with a death in the family and the pressures of my role with the Co-operative Bank.

"At the lowest point in this terrible period, I did things that were stupid and wrong.

"I am sorry for this, and I am seeking professional help, and apologise to all I have hurt or failed by my actions."

The Methodist Church said Mr Flowers, who is a minister in Bradford, has been suspended pending an investigation.

A church spokesman said: "We expect high standards of our ministers and we have procedures in place for when ministers fail to meet those standards.

"Paul is suspended from duties for a period of three weeks pending investigations and will not be available to carry out any ministerial work.

"We will also work with the police if they feel a crime has been committed.

"We are also asking people to pray for all those involved in and affected by this story."

Drugs project

Mr Flowers, who was chairman of the bank from April 2010 to June this year, gave evidence to MPs on the House of Commons Treasury Committee on 6 November.

The recording was allegedly made three days after the committee hearing, in Leeds.

One of the committee members, Conservative MP Brooks Newmark, said the Co-op Bank had questions to answer about its appointment procedures.

The Co-op Bank has so far declined to comment.

West Yorkshire Police said in a statement it had not received a report in relation to the matter "but has been made aware of the allegations made in the Mail on Sunday article and are now making further enquiries".

Mr Flowers, 63, who lives in Bradford, has been a minister for almost 40 years and served as a Labour councillor for Bradford Council for 10.

He currently serves on the trustee board of the Terrence Higgins Trust and has previously been director of the Lifeline Project which helps people tackle drug and alcohol addiction.

He was also chairman of Manchester Camerata, but the organisation issued a short statement earlier saying he had resigned.

Earlier this year, the Co-op Bank came close to collapse after pulling out of a deal to buy hundreds of Lloyds Bank branches.

The Co-op blamed the economic environment and increased regulations for its withdrawal in April but it was later found to have a £1.5bn capital shortfall.

The Treasury Committee was investigating why the deal between the Co-op and Lloyds collapsed.

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