Outcome of Church probe into conduct of disgraced minister Paul Flowers is delayed

INQUIRY: Paul Flowers who is currently indefinitely suspended from the Bradford South Methodist Circuit

INQUIRY: Paul Flowers who is currently indefinitely suspended from the Bradford South Methodist Circuit

First published in News

A CHURCH probe into the conduct of disgraced former Co-operative Bank boss and Methodist minister Paul Flowers looks set to continue for several more weeks.

Flowers was convicted of possessing drugs including cocaine, crystal meth and ketamine in May after he pleased guilty to three charges against him.

Following his sentencing in May, when he was fined £400 and ordered to pay £125 in prosecution costs and a victim surcharge, the Methodist Church announced it would start its own internal investigation.

A Church spokesman said the process would be confidential so that those involved could "speak freely."

It was thought the investigation could be completed before the summer, but yesterday a Church spokesman said there had been delays and it is now hoped to end in August.

But she was keen to stress there was no definite finish date.

"No decision has yet been made. It's taken slightly longer than we expected. It could be next month.

"We hope it will be concluded and we're working to conclude it as soon as possible."

Despite the conviction, the former Bradford councillor continues to be paid half of his stipend, or wage, at £11,106 per year and can still live rent-free in the Methodist manse in Hollingwood Drive, Great Horton.

But the former minister for Wibsey is indefinitely suspended from the Bradford South Methodist Circuit until the Church finishes its disciplinary proceedings.

Flowers has already written to Church leaders seeking retirement from his post, that could be refused on the grounds that any formal procedures should be completed first.

At the start of the Church investigation, Councillor Geoff Reid (Lib Dem, Eccleshill), who is a retired methodist minister, said it was vital the Church implemented its own procedures "absolutely by the book."

The charges against Flowers came about after he was secretly filmed paying £300 for drugs last November.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of class A drugs cocaine and crystal meth and one count of possession of the class C drug ketamine.

In his mitigation the court was told stress and caring for his terminally-ill mother were blamed for his use of drugs.

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