A criminal investigation has been started by police into reports that a Bradford Methodist minister, who is the former chairman of the Co-operative Bank, has been buying and using illegal drugs including crystal meth, cocaine and ketamine.

The Reverend Paul Flowers, 63, who is also a former Bradford councillor, was filmed buying £300 of cocaine and crystal meth only days after he was grilled by the Treasury Select Committee over the bank's disastrous performance, according to a Sunday newspaper.

Mr Flowers, who chaired the Co-operative Bank for three years, has now apologised for doing “things that were stupid and wrong”.

In a statement he said: “This year has been incredibly difficult, with a death in the family and the pressures of my role with the Co-operative Bank.

“At the lowest point in this terrible period, I did things that were stupid and wrong. I am sorry for this and I am seeking professional help, and apologise to all I have hurt or failed by my actions.”

West Yorkshire Police yesterday started a probe into the allegations that Mr Flowers was filmed arranging a drug deal in Leeds and also sent text messages about getting “wasted” and “stocking up” on cocaine, ketamine and crystal meth.

A spokesman said: “West Yorkshire Police has not received a report in relation to this matter but has been made aware of the allegations made in the Mail on Sunday article and is now making further inquiries.”

Mr Flowers has also been suspended from his church duties as the Methodist Church conducts its own investigation.

But friends have rallied round him, saying he is much-loved in his community and urging him to get help.

Mr Flowers was the chairman of the Co-operative Bank from 2010 until May this year. The Co-op has been trying to plug a £1.5 billion gap in finances which was discovered following the purchase of the Britannia Building Society in 2009 and abortive plans to buy hundreds of Lloyds branches.

Mr Flowers had to give his testimony about the bank’s troubles to the Treasury Select Committee earlier this month.

On the day after his appearance at the Commons, Mr Flowers allegedly sent a text message to an acquaintance saying: “I was ‘grilled’ by the Treasury Select Committee yesterday and afterwards came to Manchester to get wasted with friends.”

In another text, Mr Flowers, who is gay, said plans for a party were “turning into a two-day, drug-fuelled gay orgy!!!”

The acquaintance, who met Mr Flowers via a gay dating app, said Mr Flowers had thrown a party where he had served cocaine and ketamine from a metal tray.

He told the Sunday newspaper he was shocked by the scale of Mr Flowers’ drug-taking and his hypocrisy as Mr Flowers is a former long-term chairman of the Manchester-based charity Lifeline, which runs schemes to help drug and alcohol users across the country, including the Piccadilly project in Bradford.

Mr Flowers has been a Methodist Church minister for 40 years and is one of six ministers in the Bradford South Methodist Circuit.

According to its website, Mr Flowers shares the ministry of Clayton and Wibsey Methodist Churches with others. His name appears on a sign on the front of Wibsey Methodist Church as its main contact.

The church building was closed yesterday afternoon when the Telegraph & Argus visited.

The Methodist Church released a statement, saying: “We expect high standards of our ministers and we have procedures in place for when ministers fail to meet those standards.

“Paul is suspended from duties for a period of three weeks, pending investigations, and will not be available to carry out any ministerial work. We will also work with the police if they feel a crime has been committed.”

The statements from the Church and from Mr Flowers were understood to have also been read to worshippers at services held across the Bradford South circuit churches yesterday morning.

Mr Flowers was a Labour Party councillor on Bradford Council for about ten years. He served on its decision-making executive as executive member for culture, planning and housing, and stepped down in 2011.

Councillor David Green, leader of the ruling Labour group on Bradford Council, did not want to comment on the allegations.

He said yesterday: “He’s no longer a member of the Council, none of the reported activity happened during his time on the Council, so there’s nothing I want to say.”

Councillor The Reverend Geoff Reid (Lib Dem, Eccleshill) is a retired Methodist minister and still leads services on the nearby Bradford North circuit.

He questioned whether Mr Flowers should have been appointed as chairman of the Co-operative Bank at all.

He said Mr Flowers was “prone to moments of recklessness and loss of judgement” and said the Church now faced “a painful and difficult task” with its investigation.

He said yesterday: “My understanding is that a statement was read out, along with Paul’s own statement, in South Bradford Methodist Churches this morning.

“Methodist Church leaders will now have a painful and difficult task dealing with Paul.

“Being Methodists, we have clear disciplinary procedures in place and they should be used with impartiality, establishing the facts without benefit of newspapers.

“Sometimes you can think that Paul is two different people. He is a man of many accomplishments. He has been a gifted preacher and while on the Council a better speaker and debater than most members.

“But he has also been prone to moments of recklessness and loss of judgment.”

Coun Reid questioned whether Mr Flowers had taken on too much, firstly when combining his church role with his work as a councillor, and then with his work with the Co-operative.

He said: “In the matter of taking on additional paid responsibilities while working as a Circuit Minister he was probably ill-advised by those who granted permission.

“Like Paul, albeit it in a different party, I have spent my working life encouraging Methodists to get into active politics. It is to me a source of pride that Bradford Council includes Methodist Church members representing all three parties.

“I hope that this episode, at a time when politicians are held in low esteem, will not dissuade local Methodists from getting stuck in and doing something about it.”