Disgraced Former Minister Paul Flowers Criticises Church Over Sacking

Paul Flowers leaves Leeds Magistrates' Court on May 7, 2014. He pleaded guilty to possessing illegal drugs.Reuters

Paul Flowers, the former chairman of the Co-op bank whose use of drugs and male escorts led to him being sacked as a minister of the Methodist Church, has criticised the Church over his dismissal.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme, Flowers said the Church could have acted "with a bit more grace".

Flowers was exposed by a tabloid newspaper in 2013 following a disastrous appearance before MPs at which he was unable to provide answers to basic questions about the bank's near-collapse. He was suspended by the Church but only removed as a minister this month.

Dubbed the "Crystal Methodist" by tabloids, despite never having taken crystal meth, Flowers admitted on Sunday that while his problems with drugs were "largely" in the past, it would be a "lie" to claim they were completely behind him.

He said: "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."

He said that while his personal faith had strengthened, he had lost respect for the Church, including the Methodist Church, as an institution, adding that it needed to catch up with the rest of society in its attitude to issues affecting LGBT people such as himself.

While he is now barred from serving as a Methodist minister, Flowers said he had found a spiritual home in a welcoming Methodist congregation.