Crystal meth shame of bank chief: Counting off £20 notes to buy hard drugs, this is the man who ran the Co-op Bank... three days after telling MPs how it lost £700m
- Methodist minister Paul Flowers, 63, was caught on camera buying drugs
- It was just days after he was grilled by MPs over his bank's performance
- He is seen in his car discussing the cocaine and crystal meth he wants
- He then counts out £300 in £20 notes and sends a friend to make the deal
- The video handed over by an acquaintance 'disgusted by his hypocrisy'
- Last night MPs demanded Rev Flowers appear before them again
- Flowers boasts of using ketamine along with cannabis and club drug GHB
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.
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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.'
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'.
Stuart Davies, 26, first encountered the minister via the gay dating mobile phone app Grindr in early October. The two men exchanged texts and met a few weeks later. Mr Davies, who admits having used drugs in the past, said he was shocked by the scale of Flowers' drug taking as well as his double standards as he cavorted with two other young men.
'After hearing him bragging about his life, about his connections in Parliament, his 40 years in the church and his all-round good works, it just felt wrong,' said Mr Davies. 'He seemed to be using his status to get young men off their heads for sex.'
Mr Davies decided to expose Flowers and recorded part of a trip they took with a third man, who we will call X, to Leeds to buy drugs.
In time-marked footage, Flowers says after handing over the £300: 'What else have we got to get?'
X replies: 'No, that's it'.
Flowers: 'Ket? No?'
X says he doesn't think he can get it and Flowers replies: 'Don't worry. We will cope with what we've got.'
Legal experts say the evidence in the text messages and video footage could lay Flowers open to charges of possession and supplying drugs.
Mr Davies, who works in a bank, said drugs first came up in an chat on Grindr after their first meeting. He said Rev Flowers asked if he had used cocaine. 'I'd had the odd line and that's what I told him,' he said.
One minute later he adds: 'Also have ket and G [GHB] because they [two other party guests 'A' and 'B'] apparently like them...!'
Mr Davies recalled that at the party: 'He produced a metal tray which had cocaine on one side and ketamine on the other. About an hour after we got there, another man came round with five more grams of coke.
REVEREND PAUL FLOWERS AND THE CO-OP BANK'S £1.5BN 'BLACK HOLE'
As bank chairman and deputy chairman of the Co-operative Group, Paul Flowers oversaw the bank's activities throughout the lead up to the crisis.
The bank's near-failure stemmed from its ill-starred takeover of the Britannia Building Society in 2009, its huge payouts to compensate customers mis-sold products and its aborted takeover of 632 Lloyds Banking Group branches.
The Bank of England forced the bank to raise more cash in June after it became clear it was heading for heavy losses.
In a deal hatched earlier this month, The Co-op Group is to surrender the majority of its shares in the bank to City firms in return for them writing off part of its debts.
Executives have faced severe criticism for disastrous policies that led to the crisis. But as chairman, Flowers's job was to oversee their decisions and hold them to account.
'Paul was really holding court and telling us what he had been up to.'
He had been at the Commons the previous day for his aborted meeting and Mr Davies said: 'He took great delight in telling us how he had put one over on them – “Tory c****” he called them – because they'd wanted him back the next day but he had told them where to go.
'We asked him about how he kept his drug taking secret and he laughed and said that a Labour MP had passed him in the corridors and said, “Have you got a touch of the old Colombian flu?” He laughed.
'He also told us he knew Tony Blair, especially back in 1997. He just seemed to know everybody.'
On November 7, Flowers sent a text referring to his 'grilling' the previous day. Two days later, he promised a 'fine old party' with 'Charlie, ket and rocks if [sic] crystal' but added that he had never tried crystal.
Mr Davies said: 'By this stage I was determined to get some proof of what he was like so I made up my mind to film him on my iPhone'. And last Saturday he recorded the footage handed to The Mail on Sunday.
He, X and Rev Flowers went to a council house in Leeds where they paid £100 for weed. Then the minister 'counted out £260 for half an ounce of cocaine and £40 for rocks of crystal meth'. Mr Davies said: 'When we got it back to his house, X said it was crack and they lit it and inhaled it from a pipe with silver foil.
He said that when they got back to Flowers' house 'there was the biggest rock of cocaine I have ever seen in my life... it was bursting out of a large transparent bag. Paul got a tumbler and began crushing it.'
He added that the minister 'was drinking pink champagne and dropping GHB into it.'
Rev. Flowers said in a statement: 'This year has been incredibly difficult, with a death in the family [his mother Muriel a year ago] and the pressures of my role with the Co-operative Bank.
The Co-operative Bank said last night: 'We can make no comment on these allegations which are of a personal nature and being made against a former board member.'
The Methodist Church said: 'We expect high standards of our ministers. We have procedures for when ministers fail to meet those standards, and we will now start those with a thorough investigation. We will also work with the police if they feel a crime has been committed.'
METH, KET AND CRACK: THE DANGEROUS COCKTAIL OF PARTY DRUGS
Better known as: Crystal meth or Ice.
What is it? A chemical combination that can look like glass shavings or a crystal rock.
How is it taken? Smoked, snorted, swallowed or injected.
Effect: Increased arousal and heart rate, reduced appetite, lower inhibitions, psychosis, paranoia.
Cost: £20-30 a gram.
Better known as: Ket or K, a horse tranquiliser.
What is it? A powder with a yellow tinge popular as a club drug, especially on gay scene.
How is it taken? Mostly snorted but can be injected.
Effect: Highly relaxing but can be hallucinogenic. Can cause paralysis.
Cost: £20-£25 a gram.
Better know as: Crack or rock, allegedly the most addictive form of cocaine.
What is it? It comes in rocks and can be yellow or off-white.
How is it taken? It is inhaled after 'freebasing' – being heated on tin foil.
Effect: Intense but short-lived high leading to depression.
Cost: £10 for a tiny rock.
Better known as: GHB or GBL or G. Also known as date rape drug.
What is it? An oily chemical liquid, odourless and colourless.
How is it taken? A dropper from a small bottle put into your drink or on your tongue.
Effect: Euphoria, reduced inhibitions, heightened sexual arousal. Risk of coma or death.
Cost: £7-£10 for a tiny bottle.
'I was grilled by the Treasury Select Committee yesterday... and afterwards came to Manchester to get wasted'The Reverend Flowers' testimony to the Treasury Select Committee earlier this month was ridiculed by many, particularly after he was asked the size of the Co-op's assets.
Flowers said '£3billion'. The correct answer was £47billion.
Perhaps it was not surprising, as our text messages reveal the Rev Flowers' mind appeared to be elsewhere both before and after his appearance.
And on the day after, he texted again to say: 'I was grilled by the Treasury Select Committee yesterday and afterwards came to Manchester to get wasted with friends.'
Flowers' stunning lack of knowledge about the Co-op Bank raised fears that it had lacked basic oversight from its chairman.
But Flowers insisted: 'I think you have seen my CV. You will know what I believe my skills to be, and what others have judged my skills to be.'
Nevertheless, his performance prompted the committee's chairman, Andrew Tyrie, to deliver a withering conclusion: 'Today we were provided with further evidence, if it were needed, that the chairman of a bank must have a good deal of financial experience and expertise.'