Paul Flowers admits possessing Class A drugs

Picture shows Paul Flowers arriving at Leeds Magistrate's Courts. See Ross Parry copy RPYDRUGS, Andrew McCaren/
Picture shows Paul Flowers arriving at Leeds Magistrate's Courts. See Ross Parry copy RPYDRUGS, Andrew McCaren/

A former methodist minister who served in the Bridlington area has admitted to two counts of possession of class A drugs - cocaine and crystal meth - and one count of possession of the class C drug ketamine.

Paul Flowers, who is also a former Co-operative bank boss, pleaded guilty to the charges at Leeds Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 7 May.

The charges flowed from secret video footage of him which showed him handing over £300 in cash for the drugs in the West Yorkshire city in November last year.

District Judge David Kitson was told how Flowers, 63, had used cocaine for about 18 months but had little previous experience of the other two drugs.

Flowers was fined £200 for each of the offences relating to the Class A drugs, however no separate penalty was awarded for the Class C ketamine charge.

District Judge Kitson also ordered him to pay £125 in prosecution costs and a victim surcharge.

Flowers, who stepped down as the Co-op Bank’s chairman last year, later became embroiled in claims of illegal drug use and inappropriate expenses payments.

He was also suspended by the Methodist Church and the Labour Party.

The Co-op confirmed last year that it was seeking to recover contractual payments totalling £31,000 made to Flowers amid reports that he was also the subject of an inquiry into ‘’lavish’’ expense claims.

Claire Stevens, prosecuting, said the footage obtained by The Mail on Sunday showed the defendant counting out £300 in £20 notes as he sat in the car. He then handed this cash to another person in the car.

The prosecutor explained to the district judge how Flowers was interviewed three times by police and he admitted to the officers it was him in the video footage.

Ms 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.”

She said Flowers told officers that another man he thought was a friend “sold his story to The Mail on Sunday for greed”.

The court heard how Flowers left his home in Bradford on November 9 and picked up a man called Stuart Davies before heading for Leeds.

Ms Stevens said: “They drove to Leeds and collected a third man. £300 was handed to him and the defendant was given five grammes of cocaine, a small amount of crystal meth and a small amount of ketamine.”

She said: “He said he had very little previous experience of crystal meth or ketamine.”

The prosecutor said no drugs were found in Flowers’s possession by investigating police. She said he was prosecuted on the basis of the admissions he made to officers.

Richard Wright QC, defending, said his client was “of exemplary character”.

He said the prosecution was only possible because of Flowers’s admissions to the police.

Mr Wright said: “He’s not working. He’s drawing income in terms of pensions.”

He said this income was currently £510 a month but added that his client was also in possession of assets following the recent death of his mother.

“He is a man who’s remorseful,” the barrister said. “He has no relevant previous convictions, he’s a man of exemplary character.”

Mr Wright said Flowers was continuing to take steps to “deal with this issue”.

He said his client shows “a determination to resolve this issue permanently”.

And he added: “He has lost so much by the fact of his conviction.”

Another man arrested as part of the inquiry, Gavin Woroniuk, also appeared at Leeds Magistrates’ Court this morning in a separate hearing.

Woroniuk, 33, of Mitford Road, Leeds, is charged with four counts of offering to supply controlled drugs and another of possessing criminal property - £1,000 in cash.

He did not indicate a plea and Mr Kitson transferred his case to Leeds Crown Court. He was bailed to appear again on May 21.