Addiction still a struggle – ex Co

Paul Flowers in April 2014Image copyright
PA

Former Co-op Bank chairman Paul Flowers says he still struggles with addiction, three years after a drugs sting led to his suspension as a Methodist minister.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Programme after being stripped of the title reverend last week, Mr Flowers, 66, said his problems were “largely” in the past.

But he said it would be a “lie” to suggest they were completely over.

In 2014 he was fined for having cocaine, crystal meth and ketamine.

Mr Flowers, who became a Methodist minister in Bradford in 1976, has now also lost the authority to lead services for “seriously impairing the mission, witness or integrity of the Church”.

He had initially been suspended in November 2013 following allegations in the Mail on Sunday newspaper that he bought and used the illegal drugs.

Along with claims of inappropriate expenses payments, the allegations led to him stepping down from his roles as deputy chairman of the the Co-op Group and chairman of its banking arm.

Mr Flowers told Radio 4: “The truth is that I think all of us struggle with issues of addiction and we have different addictions that affect millions of us in this country,

“I’m not going to tell you a lie that it’s behind me totally, because it isn’t, but I believe it’s now largely behind me, but we still struggle with addiction of different sorts.”

Mr Flowers added that his departure from the bank and suspension from the church ultimately made his faith stronger.

He said his mother’s death was behind his drug use, adding that a “disaster” of a performance in front of a parliamentary select committee over his banking role could have been influenced by substance misuse.

But while accepting the Church disciplinary proceedings, he said he lacked “the same respect for the Church as an institution”.

He said the “Church generally – and the Methodist church is part of that” lagged behind on issues affecting LGBT people such as himself.

Addressing further newspaper claims about his use of male escorts, Mr Flowers told Radio 4 that being at the top of an organisation was “sometimes lonely”.

Listen to the full interview with Paul Flowers on the Sunday Programme, BBC Radio 4 at 07:10 GMT, or catch up on iPlayer

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