City regulator says authority had ‘moral duty’ to reveal why disgraced bank chief quit

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Disgraced former Co-operative Bank chairman Paul Flowers Disgraced former Co-operative Bank chairman Paul Flowers

A top City regulator has turned the spotlight on Bradford Council over the behaviour of disgraced former bank chief Paul Flowers, saying there should have been a “moral duty” to reveal what was known about him.

Andrew Bailey said the reason for Mr Flowers’ resignation from Bradford Council in September 2011 – because of pornography found on his council computer – was not disclosed at the time.

Mr Bailey, head of the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), said: “We didn’t have anything on him. I feel worried there are other organisations out there who knew things about him and didn’t say.

“When he stepped down from Bradford Council he told us it was to spend more time with the bank. Of course, what he didn’t tell us was why he was stepping down because it was never revealed.

“That is something that is of concern to me. This is a personal view but the whole idea that you can do deals with people so they can neatly shuffle off the scene when there is a different story behind [it] is something I think is very difficult.

“I think there is a moral duty. If I was in that situation it would be on my conscience.”

Bradford Council reportedly declined to comment on Mr Bailey’s criticisms.

But, earlier this month, a Labour report confirmed that the truth behind Paul Flowers’ resignation from Bradford Council was not made public at the time to spare him “any personal embarrassment”.

The scandal-hit Methodist minister, who was chairman of the Co-operative Bank for three years from 2010, stepped down as a city councillor in 2011 after adult material was found on his Council computer, but at the time family and work pressures were cited publicly.

The truth was only revealed in response to questions asked by the media, including the Telegraph & Argus, last month.

When the report was issued earlier this month, Council leader David Green threw his support behind the actions of his predecessor, Ian Greenwood, who was in charge at the time, saying the decision not to reveal the truth was made “with a degree of compassion”.

Chancellor George Osborne has launched an independent investigation into the troubled period at the bank which eventually saw it having to undergo a traumatic restructuring after a £1.5bn hole was found in its finances.

The takeover of Britannia Building Society and abortive attempts to buy hundreds of Lloyds Bank branches have been widely blamed for the collapse.

Details about the behaviour of Mr Flowers have now raised questions about his lack of experience and how he could have been appointed to his position, including what role regulators at the Financial Services Authority had.

Mr Bailey joined the FSA in April 2011, after Mr Flowers had been appointed. It was later replaced, with some of its responsibilities given to the new Financial Conduct Authority and others to the PRA.

The Co-operative Group has launched a fact-finding probe in the wake of the Flowers scandal as well as a review of the business by former City minister Lord Myners.


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