A police investigation has been launched after a Methodist preacher and former chairman of the Co-operative Bank was exposed apparently leading a secret double-life as a hard drug-taker.
West Yorkshire Police said they were aware of allegations about Reverend Paul Flowers and had begun making inquiries in view of footage showing him counting out £300 while allegedly discussing a drug deal.
Rev Flowers, 63, apologised yesterday “to all I have hurt or failed by my action” and admitted that he had “done things that were stupid and wrong” to cope with mounting pressure from his public and private life. The film, published by the Mail on Sunday, was secretly taken by the supposed dealer from the passenger seat of his car.
It appeared to show the church minister willingly handing over cash for cocaine and crystal meth – both highly addictive and illegal Class A drugs. When asked about whether he wanted any “ket” [ketamine], a powerful sedative popular among recreational drug users in recent years, he said: “Don’t worry – we can cope with what we’ve got.”
In a statement, Rev Flowers – a former chairman of the drug misuse charity Lifeline – 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.”
The snare came only days after Rev Flowers gave evidence to the Government’s Treasury Select Committee about how the Co-op had lost £700m in the first six month of the year, when Rev Flowers handed in his resignation.
According to the Mail, the film of Rev Flowers showed him arranging a drug deal in Leeds. It was set up by Stuart Davies, 26, who met him using an online dating app but who had become “disgusted by his hypocrisy” after hearing him “bragging about his life and connections in Parliament and 40 years in the church”.
Rev Flowers, who was earning £132,000-a-year as chairman of the Co-op Bank, was immediately suspended by the Methodist Church and banned from carrying out any ministerial work.
A spokesman for the church added: “We expect high standards of our ministers and we have procedures in place for when ministers fail to meet those standards.”