Co-op launches review after drug deal claims

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The Co-operative Group has launched a root-and-branch review after its former banking chairman was allegedly caught on camera buying drugs.

Paul Flowers, a Methodist minister who led the Co-operative bank for three years, is facing a police inquiry after he was reportedly caught buying and using illegal drugs including crystal meth, crack cocaine and ketamine.

The former Bradford councillor has been suspended by the Labour Party and the Methodist Church and apologised after being filmed allegedly buying the drugs days after being grilled by the Treasury Select Committee over the bank’s disastrous performance.

The Co-operative Group confirmed in a statement yesterday that its new executive management team had started a review which aimed to “look into any inappropriate behaviour” in the wake of “the serious and wide-ranging nature of recent allegations”.

It added: “In addition, the board of the Co-operative Group has launched a root and branch review of the democratic structure of the organisation. We need to modernise to ensure that the interests of all our seven million members are properly and directly represented in the oversight of our business activities.”

The funerals to supermarket group, which has 100,000 staff, plunged to £559m losses in the first half of the year, weighed down by its banking arm. Former Treasury mandarin Sir Christopher Kelly is heading an independent investigation.