- Methodist minister Paul Flowers, 63, caught on camera buying drugs
- It was just days after he was grilled by MPs over his bank’s performance
- Flowers boasted of using ketamine along with cannabis and club drug GHB
- Ed Miliband held private talks in Commons office with disgraced bank boss
Ed Miliband held private talks in his Commons office with the disgraced Co-op Bank boss embroiled in a drugs scandal, it emerged last night.
The revelation left the Labour leader facing potentially damaging questions about his relationship with the Reverend Paul Flowers.
Flowers is being investigated by the police after being caught on film apparently buying hard drugs, including crack cocaine and crystal meth.
But last night it emerged that Flowers had enjoyed astonishing access and influence at the top of the Labour establishment for years.
Labour sources confirmed that Mr Miliband had personally appointed Flowers to his elite Business and Industry Advisory Group in 2010 — and even invited him for private talks in his Commons office last year.
It also emerged that Flowers described Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls as a ‘political friend’ and boasted of helping to arrange a £50,000 donation for him from the Co-op last year.
Both Mr Miliband and Mr Balls deny being close to Flowers, who was suspended by Labour last night for ‘bringing the party into disrepute.’
A spokesman for Mr Balls, one of 32 Labour MPs sponsored by the Co-op, said he had never held a meeting with Flowers and never discussed the donation with him.
The near-collapse of the Co-op Bank is embarrassing for Labour, which has long ties with the organisation.
Last year Mr Miliband hailed the firm as the future of banking in a speech at the its headquarters.
And many MPs receive financial support from the Co-op, including shadow Treasury chief secretary Chris Leslie, shadow Europe minister Gareth Thomas and shadow constitutional reform minister Stephen Twigg.
Labour’s Business and Industry Advisory Group was set up by Mr Miliband to provide him with personal advice on business policy.