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Two arrested over bank boss 'drugs'

Two men have been arrested in connection with allegations of supplying drugs to shamed former Co-op Bank boss Paul Flowers.

West Yorkshire Police said the suspects, aged 26 and 34, were detained at addresses in the Thornton area of Bradford and the Armley area of Leeds.

"They are being questioned at separate West Yorkshire Police stations," the force said in a statement.

Mr Flowers, 63, was arrested by officers from the same force last week in the Liverpool area in connection with the same inquiry and later released on bail.

The police statement said: "As part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of drug supply offences made in a national newspaper, West Yorkshire Police have today arrested two men aged 26 and 34.

"The 26-year-old was arrested at an address in the Thornton area of Bradford and the 34-year-old detained at an address in the Armley area of Leeds. They are being questioned at separate West Yorkshire police stations."

Flowers was released from a police station in Leeds on Friday - the same day that an independent investigation into the near collapse of the Co-op Bank was announced.

The Methodist minister stepped down as the bank's chairman in June and questions have since been asked about his competence in the role amid claims of illegal drug use, inappropriate expenses, drink-driving and pornographic material found on a council computer.

He was suspended by both the Methodist Church and the Labour Party following allegations that he bought and used illegal drugs. It also emerged that he quit as a Labour councillor in Bradford after porn was found on his computer, although at the time he claimed he was leaving due to pressure of work.

The Co-operative Bank has confirmed it is seeking to recover contractual payments totalling £31,000 made to Mr Flowers amid reports that he was also the subject of an inquiry into "lavish" expenses claims at the Co-op when he resigned from the mutual's group board in June.

It also emerged that Mr Flowers left the Manchester-based drug charity Lifeline Project in 2004 after an investigation over claims for expenses there.

The fall-out from Mr Flowers' demise has provoked a storm of questions for a range of institutions, from City regulators and the Government through to the Labour Party, which has close links to the Co-operative movement.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has accused Prime Minister David Cameron of "desperate" smears over Labour's links to Mr Flowers.

The probe into the Co-op announced by Chancellor George Osborne last week will cover "the appointment of senior staff" and examine events from at least 2008.

City regulators the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have also announced they are considering whether to launch formal enforcement investigations into the bank.

Earlier this week, Business Secretary Vince Cable has Treasury ministers held a "fairly substantial number" of meetings with the Co-op Bank over a plan for it to take over branches of Lloyds.


From Belfast Telegraph