Scandals bring down 'crystal Methodist' banker

Few public figures have had a faster, more spectacular or more lurid fall from grace than Paul Flowers, the so-called ''crystal Methodist''.

His arrest on Thursday night in connection to a ''drugs supply investigation'' marked a new low in a fortnight in which this former British Methodist minister and Co-operative Bank chairman was caught up in a scandal that had every ingredient you could imagine.

There were dubious expense claims, pornography, political intrigue, financial mismanagement, a video of him allegedly buying cocaine and boasting about drug use - even a kiss-and-tell rent boy.

In June, Mr Flowers stepped down as chairman of the Co-op Bank shortly after it was found to have a £1.5 billion hole in its finances.

Then in early November he gave evidence to the Treasury Select Committee, which was investigating the collapse of the Co-op Bank's bid for a network of bank branches owned by Lloyds.

The appearance was as comical as it was brutal. Mr Flowers first told the committee the wrong figure for the bank's total assets (he said £3 billion, they were actually £47 billion). Then he admitted he had no idea of the size of the bank's loan book.

After the grilling, you could forgive Mr Flowers for seeking a little light relief. Or to put it in his own words: ''Afterwards [I] came to Manchester to get wasted with friends.''

Last weekend's Mail on Sunday reported that a text message containing this admission had been sent by Mr Flowers. Other texts wrote of plans for a ''two-day, drug-fuelled gay orgy'', and boasted he was ''snorting some good stuff''.

The Mail published a video, in which he is seen apparently arranging to buy cocaine and crystal meth, and counting out £300 ($530) for a dealer.

Mr Flowers was suspended by the Methodist Church the next day, and police searched his home.

Then on Wednesday, the Mail had a 21-year-old male escort, who provided details of his ''drug-fuelled threesomes'' with Mr Flowers.

Then there was the political angle. Earlier this year, Mr Flowers twice met Labour leader Ed Miliband to discuss banking reform. His bank then gave a £1 million loan to Labour.

The Conservatives made hay over their opponents' link to such a compromised figure, but the government may not emerge unsullied, as Chancellor George Osborne also worked to help the Co-op Bank.

West Yorkshire police have said that Mr Flowers was arrested in connection with an ongoing drugs supply investigation.

He was released on bail, but it is likely Mr Flowers will long be remembered as one of banking's greatest embarrassments.

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