Ex-Bridlington minister got £60,000 pay-off after resignation from Co-Op

Bradford Council - Coun the Rev Paul Flowers.

Bradford Council - Coun the Rev Paul Flowers.

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The disgraced former chairman of the Co-operative Bank received more than £60,000 in a pay-off after he resigned in June, it was revealed today.

The Rev Paul Flowers, who is the subject of a West Yorkshire Police inquiry into drug allegations, was given a lump sum which was the equivalent of around six months of his annual pay of £130,000.

He served as superintendent of Bridlington Methodist Circuit, working at churches in Sewerby, Flamborough and Bridlington, before leaving the town in 1999.

The latest revelations surrounding Mr Flowers and the crisis-hit bank emerged as the Government indicated there would be an independent inquiry into how the Methodist minister – who has now been suspended indefinitely by his church – came to be appointed in the first place.

It also emerged today that Mr Paul Flowers left a drug charity after an investigation over his expenses claims.

He was suspended from the Lifeline Project, where he was a trustee on the board of the organisation, the charity said.

He left the charity in 2004, long before he was engulfed in allegations of illegal drug use and gay sex that led to his suspension from the Methodist Church and a growing political row over his appointment to the Co-op Bank and its close ties with the Labour Party.

In addition it has emerged Mr Flowers, 63, was convicted of drink-driving years before his alleged drug- taking was exposed.

He was caught over the limit behind the wheel in Manchester in June 1990.

A spokeswoman for the Methodist Church said they were aware of the drink-drive conviction and a disciplinary hearing was held but he had been allowed to continue his role in the church.

Ian Wardle, chief executive of the Lifeline Project in Manchester, told Sky News: “I developed concerns at the beginning of 2004 about some of the claims that had been made and I spoke with our treasurer at the time and we then involved our solicitors and, to cut a long story short, in June 2004 I raised the matter formally, fully and in depth with our trustees body.

“Our trustees body suspended Rev Flowers and then we began to investigate the claims. And we investigated five years of claims.

“We looked at these claims, then we invited Rev Flowers to reply to us in order that he could tell us what the rationale behind these claims were.”

Mr Flowers has apologised for his “stupid and wrong behaviour”.