November 17, 2013
The chairman who oversaw the near-collapse of the Co-operative Bank has been caught buying and using illegal drugs including crystal meth, crack cocaine and ketamine.
The Rev Paul Flowers, a Methodist minister, was filmed buying the substances just days after he was grilled by MPs on the Treasury Select Committee over the bank’s disastrous performance.
In the shocking video, Rev Flowers, 63, is seen in his car discussing the cocaine and crystal meth he wants from a dealer in Leeds. He then counts out £300 in £20 notes and sends a friend to make the deal.
The video and a series of damning text messages were handed to The Mail on Sunday by acquaintance Stuart Davies, who was ‘disgusted by his hypocrisy’.
The text messages prove Rev Flowers was using hard drugs in the days surrounding his crucial testimony to the Treasury Committee on November 6. Last night MPs on the committee demanded Rev Flowers appear before them again.
Tory MP Brooks Newmark said he was ‘gobsmacked’ by the revelations which are sure to revive concerns about Britain’s banking industry and who is fit to run it.
Former Labour councillor Rev Flowers yesterday apologised for his ‘stupid and wrong’ actions and blamed the ‘pressures of my role with the Co-op Bank’.
Flowers was the £132,000-a-year chairman of the ‘ethical’ Co-op Bank from 2010 until May this year when he stepped down as the bank’s financial woes became apparent. The bank lost £700 million in the first six months of this year.
On the day after his appearance at the Commons, Flowers sent a text reading: ‘I was “grilled” by the Treasury Select Committee yesterday and afterwards came to Manchester to get wasted with friends.
Flowers, who is gay, also boasts of using illicit substances including ketamine, a powerful Class C tranquilliser nicknamed ‘ket’, along with cannabis and club drug GHB.
In one text, Flowers wrote how his plans for a party were ‘turning into a two day, drug fuelled gay orgy!!!’ In another, he boasted of how he was ‘snorting some good stuff’. That was sent on the day he was first scheduled to appear before the Commons committee, but the session ran out of time to hear him. And last week, he said in a text: ‘I’m on ket tonight.’
Flowers has been a Methodist minister for 40 years, currently in Bradford, and formerly chaired drugs charity Lifeline, whose motto is: ‘Telling the Truth About Drugs.’ In one report, Rev Flowers wrote of ‘the ever-increasing problems associated with drug use faced by individuals, families and communities’.
The Co-op Group, via its political arm, is a major Labour Party donor and sponsors about 30 MPs, including Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls. Rev Flowers is a trustee of HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust, whose website says that in 2010 Labour leader Ed Miliband appointed him to the party’s Finance and Industry Board.