Former Co-operative Bank Chair arrested by police

The former Chair of the Co-operative Bank has been arrested by police over drugs allegations.

The former Chair of the Co-operative Bank has been arrested by police over drugs allegations.

Paul Flowers, who left his position as Chair and a director of the Co-operative Group in June, was arrested in Merseyside last night and taken to a police station in West Yorkshire.

A spokesman at West Yorkshire Police said: "Officers from West Yorkshire Police have arrested a 63-year-old man in the Merseyside area in connection with an ongoing drugs supply investigation.

"He has been taken to a police station in West Yorkshire where detectives will continue their enquiries."

Last weekend, the Mail on Sunday made allegations, backed up by video footage, that Mr Flowers was purchasing illegal drugs in the days after an appearance at the Parliamentary Treasury Committee.

The committee was investigating the collapse of the deal between the Co-operative Bank and a purchase of bank branches from Lloyds.

Following these revelations, he was indefinitely suspended from the Methodist Church, where he was a minister in Bradford. The former Labour councillor was also suspended from the Labour Party.

Today, the BBC alleges that Mr Flowers was asked to resign from the Group board over concerns about expense claims and his competency for the job.

On his retirement from the Group, it was agreed the organisation would pay his fees for his three year term. The Group has confirmed that it has stopped these payments. It said in a statement: "When Paul Flowers relinquished his responsibilities in June, it was agreed, as per his contractual obligations, that his fees for the rest of his period of office would be paid.

"Following recent revelations, the board stopped all payments with immediate effect and no further payments will be made."

The Co-operative Group's executive team, led by Chief Executive Euan Sutherland, has also this week launched a probe into "inappropriate behaviour" at the society. A statement said: "Given the serious and wide-ranging nature of recent allegations, the new executive management team has started a fact-finding process to look into any inappropriate behaviour at the Co-operative Group or the Co-operative Bank and to take action as necessary."

Earlier this week, Co-operative Group Chair Len Wardle resigned from the Group for his role in appointing Mr Flowers to the Bank board.

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."

Mr Wardle has been replaced by Co-operative Group director Ursula Lidbetter, who is also Chief Executive of Lincolnshire Co-operative.

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