Former British bank chief fined for drugs possession

7th May 2014, Comments 0 comments

Paul Flowers, the former chairman of Britain's embattled Co-operative Bank -- and an ex-drugs charity trustee -- was fined Wednesday after admitting possession of cocaine and crystal meth.

The 63-year-old clergyman, dubbed the Crystal Methodist, pleaded guilty at a magistrates court in northern England.

He admitted two counts of possession of Class A drugs -- considered the most harmful category -- namely cocaine and methamphetamine.

He also admitted possession of ketamine, a drug in the lowest category, Class C.

Flowers was fined £400 ($680, 490 euros) and ordered to pay £125 in court costs.

Flowers stepped down as Co-op Bank chairman in June last year after reported claims of illegal drug use and concerns about his expenses.

He also resigned as a Methodist Church minister days before his arrest in November, following the exposure of his involvement in a drug deal.

The court heard how Flowers, who admitted the offences in police interviews, was filmed handing over £300 for the drugs in a car in the northern city of Leeds. The footage was bought by The Mail on Sunday newspaper.

Prosecutor Claire Stevens said: "He said he had been a cocaine user for the past 18 months. He cited stress and the care of his terminally-ill mother as reasons for his drug use.

"As a former chairman of Lifeline, the national drugs charity, he said he was aware of the effects of cocaine and this was a drug used to keep himself going."

Flowers has been suspended by the Methodist Church and by the opposition Labour Party.

Earlier Wednesday, former Treasury minister Lord Paul Myners laid out his plans for saving the wider Co-operative Group, but suggested traditionalists would spurn the necessary reforms.

The ailing food-to-funerals mutual group last month reported annual losses of £2.5 billion and faced near-collapse last year, having to be rescued by bondholders.

"I have myself witnessed repeated instances where there has been denial of responsibility, corrosive suspicion, deliberate delay and a practice of hiding behind 'values' in order to deflect or stifle criticism and protect self-interest," Myners said in his damning report.

© 2014 AFP

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