Don t laugh too terribly, however I attempt to be a decent Christian individual. Drugs, hot-tub parties, escorts: it’s another perfect tabloid storm for former Co-op manager Paul Flowers. In his first newspaper interview since the preliminary scandal, he describes that the problem is he’s too kind and generous.It was about 12 hours after the Sunday documents went to press last weekend that the Reverend Paul Flowers got in touch. The Sunday Mirror has actually had a moderate go at me today, began the email, inviting me to interview him about how he had wound up in the tabloids again, after yet another male prostitute privately shot him at exactly what was referred to as a drug-fueled celebration in his Salford home.
The double-page feature included a picture of the Methodist minister and former chair of the Co-op bank asleep, half naked, with crisps stabilized on each nipple, and the headline: The Crispal Methodist. It was a pun on the nickname he was given the first of the 3 times his peccadilloes have been openly exposed in the last few years, when he was caught on camera purchasing crystal meth in November 2013, six months after quitting the Co-op when a 1.5bn black hole was exposed in its balance books.Don t worry, I wear t desire or need money!!! ran the breathless e-mail, offering his home telephone number. I sounded him up. He sounded strangely euphoric, splitting jokes about his new sweetheart, whom, he said, was a refugee from the bars of Manchester. He would get this young beau to do the gardening in the naked for the paparazzi later on, he stated.
I was uncertain he would even answer the door: he didn’t the last time he invited me round a couple of months after he had actually been fined 525 for drugs charges in May 2014. He only replied to my texts the list below day, when I stated I was so worried about him that I was going to ring the police if he didn’t send out signs of life. He was awfully apologetic, blaming brand-new medication prescribed for his serious scientific depression, which he stated was triggering him to sleep up to 15 hours at a time.This time he unlocks with a flourish. He is wearing a lilac t-shirt and khaki slacks, loaded with remorse for standing me up last time. He couldn’t have talked then; he states: he would have been largely incoherent. The brand-new sweetheart, a sweet, skinny lad from the West Country who doesn’t want to be named, is in the back garden, where the previous weekend the Sunday Mirror claimed a sordid Jacuzzi party had actually happened. The Jacuzzi was leased, the partner describes: they had actually been celebrating his 25th birthday celebration with buddies, including the young ne’er-do-well who covertly shot the lot and offered the video to the Sunday Mirror.
Flowers, now 65, desires the world to know how he ended up in such a mess. He figured it out at the Priory in Birmingham, where he spent 28 days at the end of 2013 after his substance abuse and sexual proclivities were exposed in the Mail on Sunday. It had actually not been an excellent year. He had actually stepped down as chairman of the Co-op in early June, quickly before the bank was taken over by two US hedge funds. In the November he was summoned to parliament to appear in front of the treasury select committee. It did not work out. I made an ass of myself, he says of how he came to ignore the bank’s assets by 44bn (he believed they were worth simply 3bn).How a Laborcouncilor and Methodist minister ended up chairing one of the UK s most respected banks is still a little tough to fathom especially when taken with his less than saintly past, which included convictions for cottaging and drink-driving, and an ignominious departure from Lifeline, a Manchester drugs charity he chaired for 16 years, after being charged (and after that cleared) of dodgy expenditures.
Flowers still insists he wasn’t out of his depth. Talking in his conservatory, surrounded by books, including Johann Hari s investigation of failed drug prevention policies, Chasing the Scream, he says he beat five others in an open competitor to obtain the gig, and his appointment was two times affirmed in interviews with the Financial Services Authority (FSA). When Flowers initially contacted me, in the summertime of 2014, he said he wished to fix the sloppy journalism that implied among the factors he left the Co-op was his substance abuse. He stated police trawled through 38,000 of his emails and found nothing in his time as chair of the bank that they would want to use in a drugs prosecution. He now confesses that throughout his chairmanship, which started in 2010, he was very occasionally taking drugs, typically cocaine and often ketamine, and having sex with male prostitutes in Manchester s Renaissance hotel. He did cocaine alone in the house in Bradford in the days leading up to his dreadful choose committee look.
It was behavior that began in 2009, he stated, when he was on the Co-op board and he started to spend more time in Manchester, where the bank has its headquarters. He suggests by means of the second individual he often uses when discussing his checkered past that it was the tension of the job that led him to trawl the web for paid sex: You had nights when you had actually been fighting through the problems of the day, then the senior officers needed to amuse the troops at night and I was bloody well worn out. That belonged to the task, however you were knackered. And like many countless other individual’s judges, attorneys, journalists, people of all occupations and none I sought intimacy among companions.I ask how many companions he has utilized over the years. I think it would be nearly salacious to put a number on it, forgive me. Simply say that I have, over the years, at points where I was often spending three or four nights a week in one particular hotel in Manchester, frequently looked for convenience and solace.
Flowers prides himself on learning who the companion really is. Often they have remained in care, often they have actually suffered various sort of abuse, whether physical or mental, and they have problem with their demons, too. He has his own peculiar justification for paying for sex: If I could be terribly blasphemous for a moment, as somebody who aims to be, please wear t laugh too badly, someone who tries to be a decent Christian person, I wish to use that little mantra that is frequently precious of evangelicals, though that is not the evangelical camp from which I come at all. They often use the mantra: WWJD What would Jesus do? He s midway through a long lecture about the Bible before I understand that he has just compared himself to the boy of God, who befriended Mary Magdalene and other female woman of the streets.
He doesn’t see the contradiction in between his own recognition of the vulnerability of the companions and the fact that he may be exploiting it. With regard, I frequently ended up in counselling sessions with them, he says. Who was counselling whom? I was counselling them, because I listened to them. And lots of them would tell you, if you bothered to ask, that I had a track record for being a very kind person who paid attention to people I hung around with, in such a way that they were never listened to before.
The man who privately shot the hot-tub celebration previously was a companion, too. He’s gay for pay, states Flowers sweetheart, who adds that great deals of his good friends are escorts. He and Flowers contest a few of the account the companion gave the Sunday Mirror, however far from all of it. Flowers admits in a roundabout method that he had actually taken drugs at the party, but that doesn’t take place to be a criminal offence of taking them in my own home. I challenge his misunderstanding of the law, but he stands firm.He won’t tell me exactly what he ingested, just that he has never ever, ever tried crystal meth. I understand I have this credibility as the Crystal Methodist, my dear, he says, because when they [the companion of Flowers who provided the phone camera footage to the Mail on Sunday] recorded me in that car I was purchasing ... crystal meth. He insists he has never inhaled anything in his life, consisting of cigarettes: I cannot take things down my throat. In the first video that got him in so much problem, the guy filming was the one for whom he was purchasing crystal meth, he states. He’s just too generous with his revenue: he states he provided 200 to the escort who turned him over at the weekend, too. The Sunday Mirror implied the money was for sex, or at least company. Not so, says Flower: I m a charitable individual so I lent him some money. However, a bit like Bill Clinton my dear, I did not have sex with that individual.
It was in the Priory, charged with composing his own life story as part of his treatment, that Flowers remembered a long-buried event that took location at theological college in the early 1970s, when he says that he was raped by another student. He has actually never ever been closeted, he says, but nonetheless has actually never ever managed to forge long lasting charming relationships beyond about 2 months. They were used to it: his grandmother had both a gay brother and sister, and Flowers just sibling, his younger bro, Ian, was gay too.Flowers says it is only now, at 65, that he is experiencing true love. He gazes adoringly at his willowy partner, who brings us drinks throughout the interview and has actually scrubbed the downstairs loo ahead of my arrival. He understands some will disapprove of his relationship with a male 40 years his junior, however he doesn’t care. I have actually found profound joy now in a relationship that the world will take a look at and believe, He’s a filthy old bugger. I couldn’t give a tiddler’s fuck exactly what they believe.
It’s not his fault that the Co-op has lost customers, he says, moving into the third person. They’ve not taken their accounts away because six months after Paul Flowers had resigned from office he was accused of this small offence of belongings, which would not have got into the public press at all if I had actually not been Paul Flowers, previous chair of the Co-op bank. They didn’t do it because of that. There is no merging between the time I chaired and the other problems I had. The personal peccadilloes of someone who looks for intimacy and support has sod-all to do with the problems of whether we peacefully or effectively tried to run a bank.The conversation reverses to drugs. He insists he is not an addict because he doesn’t crave them and can go weeks or months without. I suggest that there is another contradiction: that he states he took drugs to deal with isolation and lack of love, however here he is telling me that he is blissfully in love and yet is still hoovering coke up his nose in the tabloids. At each phase in our development, we do things to get by, he states, by which he suggests drugs. And after that at some phase, you discover something quite intriguing about the method which they help your connections to other individuals. And you then do things because you enjoy them, all right? A lot of your readers will identify with that too.
He has actually been suspended from the Methodist Church since his drug use was made public in November 2013, however has yet to participate in a tribunal because his physicians say he is too unwell. My experience of the Methodist Church is that you are treated with great generosity and gentility, and you are treated like a human being, he states. It’s how we learn from these errors and turn them favorably for excellent.