Len Wardle resigns as Group Chair; Ursula Lidbetter takes the helm

Len Wardle has resigned as Chair of the Co-operative Group after his involvement in the appointment of Paul Flowers, and will be replaced by the Chief Executive of...

Len Wardle has resigned as Chair of the Co-operative Group after his involvement in the appointment of Paul Flowers, and will be replaced by the Chief Executive of Lincolnshire Co-operative.

Over the weekend, Paul Flowers, the former Chair of the Co-operative Bank, was accused of purchasing illegal drugs, as well as a history of drug abuse.

Len Wardle, who had already announced his retirement for next May, has stepped down as Chair and Group board director with immediate effect. He said: "The recent revelations about the behaviour of Paul Flowers, the former Chair of The Co-operative Bank, have raised a number of serious questions for both the Bank and the Group.

"I led the Board that appointed Paul Flowers to lead the Bank Board and under those circumstances I feel that it is right that I step down now, ahead of my planned retirement in May next year."

Ursula Lidbetter, who is currently Group Deputy Chair, as well as Chair of the Co-operative Food Board, has also been the Chief Executive of Lincolnshire Co-operative for the past eight years.

The £264m-turnover Lincolnshire operates over 70 food stores, 18 funeral homes and 10 travel branches. At the Co-operative Group, Ms Lidbetter is also a member of the Audit and Risk Committee and the Remuneration & Appointments Committee.

Len Wardle said the new Chair will lead the society's governance review over the coming months. He added: "I have already made it clear that I believe the time is right for real change in our operations and our governance and the Board recently started a detailed review of our democracy. I hope that the Group now takes the chance to put in place a new democratic structure so we can modernise in the interests of all our members."

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