Video of ex-chairman allegedly buying crack prompts inquiry

Police search home of former Co-operative bank chairman Paul Flowers over drug claims

British police have searched the home of former Co-operative bank chairman Paul Flowers after a national newspaper published a video apparently showing the Methodist preacher arranging to buy crack cocaine and crystal meth.

Police said they searched the home in Bradford in northern England after the Mail on Sunday newspaper published a video showing Mr Flowers counting out £300 in a car and handing it to another person after agreeing to pay for illegal drugs.

“Officers executed a search warrant ... as part of their investigation into alleged drugs offences arising from a national Sunday newspaper story,” West Yorkshire police said in a statement.

Mr Flowers (63) has not directly addressed allegations of drug use although he said in a statement on Sunday that he has had a difficult year and apologised for doing sometimes stupid things. He could not be immediately reached for comment today.

The claims of drug use by Mr Flowers have added to questions over why regulars approved his appointment at the Co-op bank when he had limited banking experience.

Before a recent parliamentary hearing he failed to distinguish between bank capital and capitalisation.

British Labour leader Ed Miliband is also facing growing questions over his party's links to the former bank chairman.

Co-operative Group chairman Len Wardle has already quit amid the deepening scandal. Mr Wardle brought forward his plans to retire by six months, acknowledging that he led the board that had appointed Mr Flowers.

Mr Flowers left the Co-op in June after three years as chairman when the bank brought in new management to oversee a restructuring and deal with a €1.5 billion capital shortfall.

Tory chairman Grant Shapps has now demanded to know when Mr Miliband and shadow chancellor Ed Balls were aware that Mr Flowers resigned as a councillor in Bradford after adult material was found on his computer.

In a letter, Mr Shapps challenged the Labour leader to give details of private meetings with Mr Flowers, explain why he had been brought on to the party's business advisory group, and return a £50,000 donation to Mr Balls' office that he had backed.

Wires