THE Methodist Church has denied that it ignored complaints about
the former chairman of the Co-operative Bank, the Revd Paul
Flowers, who has been embroiled in a scandal after he was filmed
allegedly buying drugs. Mr Flowers was arrested on Thursday of last
week by West Yorkshire Police as part of an investigation into
"drugs supply", police said (News 22
Following an exposé in the Mail on Sunday, on Wednesday
of last week the Methodist Church announced that it had suspended
Mr Flowers indefinitely. But the Church said that it would wait
until the police investigation and any court proceedings had
finished before conducting its own complaints process.
The assistant secretary of the Methodist Conference, the Revd
Gareth Powell, denied that the Church had been slow to pick up on
complaints about Mr Flowers's behaviour.
Last Frida, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I
don't think we were incurious. The difficulty about this tragic
case is the extraordinary level of allegation and conjecture. It's
very difficult to distinguish between those concerns based on hard
evidence and those based on speculation. We cannot act on comments
on a person's behaviour without any firm evidence." Mr Powell did
acknowledge that a conviction for gross indecency in a public
convenience from 1981 had been brought to the Church's attention,
but it had decided not to take disciplinary action.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced on
Saturday that an inquiry would investigate events at the Co-op
Bank. "The investigation has been jointly agreed with the two
regulators - the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial
Conduct Authority - who agree there is a public interest in a
statutory investigation," a Treasury spokesman said.
A separate review by the Co- operative Group into any
"inappropriate behaviour" has also been established.