‘Yes, I’ve sinned’ says ex co-op boss Paul Flowers

Former Co-operative Bank chairman Reverend Paul Flowers. Picture: PA
Former Co-operative Bank chairman Reverend Paul Flowers. Picture: PA
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FORMER Co-op Bank boss Paul Flowers, who was exposed for alleged drugs use in a newspaper sting, admitted he had “sinned” in his first interview since the furore erupted.

Mr Flowers, 63, was bailed in connection with alleged drugs supply offences in January after being arrested by officers from West Yorkshire Police in the Liverpool area last year.

The Methodist minister stepped down as the bank’s chairman last June, amid claims of illegal drug use and inappropriate expenses payments. In a BBC television interview last night, he said: “I am in company with every other human being for having my frailties and some fragility exposed.

“Most people get through life without that ever coming into the public domain.

“But, of course I have sinned in that old-fashioned term, which I would rarely use, I have to say.”

Mr Flowers said he had suffered some “hellish” months and had been 
abandoned by some friends. He added that he had come under intense pressure from former Treasury minister Mark Hoban, and indirectly Chancellor George Osborne, to push through a deal for the bank to take over around 600 branches of Lloyds bank, which ultimately collapsed.

Asked just how much pressure he had come under, Mr Flowers said: 
“Considerable from the present government, mainly from Conservatives. They wanted a deal.

“Remember that the government was, still is, the major shareholder of that bank because of the structural support that it had need of back in 2008.

“Clearly they wanted a deal which would help them in terms of public finances.

“They actually said that they were keen on this Co-op becoming a much more significant player with more scale.”

Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman, who interviewed him, said Mr Flowers’ treatment by some parts of the media left him a “damaged man”.