The former chairman of the Co-Operative Bank, one of the U.K.'s biggest retail banks, has been caught buying cocaine in a U.K.tabloid newspaper sting.
Paul Flowers, a Methodist minister, was filmed by an acquaintance he met through gay dating app Grindr paying £300 for cocaine, just days after he appeared in front of an influential committee of U.K. politicians to help explain why a proposed tie-up between the Co-op bank and Lloyds did not work out. He was also filmed talking about taking ketamine and crystal meth, and the acquaintance said he also discussed smoking crack cocaine.
The Co-op Bank planned to buy hundreds of Lloyds Bank branches but was forced to pull out of the deal in April. At the time, the bank, which prides itself on its ethical policies, said that the economic environment was to blame – but has since admitted a £1.5 billion capital shortfall and announced a restructure of its debt. Flowers left the bank in June after the collapse of the deal, dubbed Project Verde.
(Read more: Co-op cedes control of bank in £1.5 billion rescue)
Flowers, Co-op's chairman for nearly three years, had little experience of the financial world when he joined. His appearance in front of the Treasury Select Committee earlier in November featured a number of errors on the bank's figures, including the statement its balance sheet had £3 billion of assets, although it actually had £47billion. He also admitted he did not know how much the bank lent to its borrowers.
His performance was described by the head of the committee, Andrew Tyrie, as "further evidence that the chairman of a bank must have a good deal of financial expertise."
(Read more: Co-op bank boss quits after debt rating downgrade)
Flowers, who used to be the director of a drugs and alcohol addiction charity, said in a statement: "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 apologize to all I have hurt or failed by my actions."
He has been suspended from his work as a Methodist minister and is reported to have gone into hiding to flee media attention following the story.