The Rev Flowers’ excesses must not destroy the Co-op

Financial regulators must ensure that a man with no experience can never again be deemed suitable to run a bank

Share

The list of the Rev Paul Flowers’ supposed transgressions is lengthening on an almost daily basis. Yesterday, the indefinitely suspended chairman of the Co-operative Bank was arrested in connection with a “drugs supply investigation” by West Yorkshire Police. Just the evening before, it emerged that he was forced to resign from the board of the Co-operative Group in June because of concerns over his lavish expenses. And the day before that, it was revealed that he was suspended from the board of trustees of Lifeline, in 2004, amid allegations of false expenses claims (only to quit before the charity’s investigation was completed).

Add to them the allegations about drug-fuelled orgies with prostitutes, even as the bank he was supposed to be running was on the brink of collapse – not to mention a chequered past replete with one conviction for gross indecency, another for drunk-driving, and a resignation from Bradford City Council over pornography on a laptop – and the furore over the Rev Flowers and the Co-op is not without cause.

Amid the wreckage, there are most certainly matters that need to be addressed. Financial regulators must ensure that a man with no experience can never again be deemed suitable to run a bank, mutual or otherwise. Politicians on both sides of the spectrum also need to consider the full-tilt rush for the Co-op’s expansion.

In the near-hysteria generated by the flood of colourful accusations, however, all perspective is in danger of being lost. The most serious risk is to the Co-operative Group. As the mud flies over how the Rev Flowers could have been allowed to rise so far beyond his apparent capabilities, no small amount is sticking to the parent group and its mutual structure. We must take care, though. Mutuals in general, and the Co-op in particular, have much to recommend them, and it would be a shame to waste the barrel for one bad apple.

The frenzied jostling for political advantage that has been unleashed by the scandal is no more constructive. Between the claims that George Osborne tried to bend the rules in Brussels, and the fevered talk of Labour “soft loans”, neither side escapes criticism. The Flowers debacle has raised very real questions about Britain’s financial sector. Let’s stick to those.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

After Savile, we must devote our energies to stopping the child abuse taking place now

Mary Dejevsky
A ‘hugely irritated’ Sir Malcolm Rifkind on his way home from Parliament on Monday  

Before rushing to criticise Malcolm Rifkind, do you know how much being an MP can cost?

Isabel Hardman
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower