Former Co-op boss and Methodist minister charged with possession of drugs

Disgraced former Co-op Bank boss Paul Flowers (centre) arrives to answer bail at Stainbeck Police Station, Leeds, in connection with alleged drugs supply offences

Disgraced former Co-op Bank boss Paul Flowers (centre) arrives to answer bail at Stainbeck Police Station, Leeds, in connection with alleged drugs supply offences

First published in News

Disgraced former Co-op Bank boss and Bradford Methodist minister Paul Flowers has been charged with possession of drugs including cocaine and crystal meth.

Flowers, 63, was arrested by West Yorkshire Police officers in the Liverpool area last year.

The Reverend, who has been dubbed the crystal Methodist, stepped down as the Co-operative Bank’s chairman in June amid claims of illegal drug use and inappropriate expenses payments.

He was charged yesterday with two counts of possession of Class A drugs – cocaine and methamphetamine – and one count of possession of Class C drug ketamine, prosecutors said.

A second man was also charged in relation to the incident.

Gavin Woroniuk, 33, of Mitford Road, Leeds, faces four counts of offering to supply controlled drugs and one count of possession of criminal property. Both men will appear at Leeds Magistrates' Court on May 7.

Flowers was suspended by both the Methodist Church and the Labour Party following allegations that he bought and used illegal drugs.

It also emerged that he quit as a senior Labour councillor in Bradford in 2011 after pornography was found on his computer, although at the time he claimed he was leaving due to pressure of work.

The Co-operative Bank confirmed last year that it was seeking to recover contractual payments totalling £31,000 made to Flowers amid reports that he was also the subject of an inquiry into “lavish” expense claims at the Co-op when he resigned from the mutual’s group board in June.

It also emerged that Flowers left the Manchester-based drug charity Lifeline Project in 2004 after an investigation over claims for expenses there.

Flowers, of Hollingwood Drive, Great Horton, Bradford, was charged after he answered bail at Stainbeck police station in Leeds.

He made no comment to reporters and photographers as he left the police station building.

His solicitor, Andrew Hollas, told reporters outside the police station that his client would make a “full statement” following his court appearance.

When asked about media coverage of the case, he replied: “Mr Flowers has assured me, and through me I'm instructing you, that he will make a full statement after his magistrates' appearance.”

Clare Stevens, of the Crown Prosecution Service's complex casework unit in Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “We have carefully considered a file of evidence gathered by West Yorkshire Police in relation to alleged criminal offences committed by Paul Flowers in Bradford in November 2013.

“Following a review of the evidence, I have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to charge Paul Flowers with possession of Class A and Class C drugs relating to an incident on November 9 2013.”

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