UK
07/05/2014 06:21 BST | Updated 07/05/2014 11:59 BST

Paul Flowers, Former Co-Operative Bank Chairman, Pleads Guilty To Drugs Possession (VIDEO)

Former Co-operative Bank boss Paul Flowers has pleaded guilty at Leeds Magistrates' Court to drugs possession, after arriving flanked by bodyguards.

The minister, dubbed the Crystal Methodist, appeared before magistrates in Leeds On Wednesday, where he pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of class A drugs - cocaine and methamphetamine - and one count of possession of class C drug ketamine.

He was greeted at his first court appearance a by a gaggle of photographers and reporters - as he had been at an earlier visit to a police station - but this time came prepared with bodyguards.

paul flowers bodyguards

Flowers arrived at court flanked by bodyguards

Richard Wright QC, defending, said his client had a current income of £510 a month through pensions but admitted he had also gained assets following the recent death of his mother. Mr Wright did not disclose the value of these assets.

Flowers was fined £400 and ordered to pay £125 towards the cost of the prosecution.

In court, prosecutor Claire Stevens outlined how Flowers was arrested after he was filmed handing over £300 for the drugs in a car in Leeds in November, last year.

The footage was sold to The Mail On Sunday, the district judge was told.

Flowers admitted the offence to police who later arrested and interviewed him. He said he had taken cocaine for about 18 months to help him with stress and while he was caring for his terminally mother, who has since died.

He told police he knew about the effects of cocaine through his work with the Lifeline charity and used it to "keep himself going".

But, Ms Stevens said, Flowers told officers he had little previous experience of crystal meth or ketamine.

Flowers, 63, stepped down as the Co-op Bank's chairman in June amid claims of illegal drug use and inappropriate expenses payments.

He was also suspended by the Methodist Church and the Labour Party.

The Co-op confirmed last year that it was seeking to recover contractual payments totalling £31,000 made to Flowers amid reports that he was also the subject of an inquiry into ''lavish'' expense claims.

Flowers arrived at court before the doors had been unlocked, leaving him to stand on the street for five minutes surrounded by photographers and TV cameras.

He said: "Don't ask me any questions because I won't give any answers."

He repeated his description of the mass of reporters and photographers as "vultures" as he stood and endured a barrage of flash photography, eventually saying: "Do you have enough now?"

Court staff opened the doors at 9am and let the pinstripe-suited clergyman into the building.

Flowers refused to comment as he left court and fought his way through a mass of cameras with the help of two minders.

At one point he angrily grabbed a microphone as he tried to get to his car parked at the kerb.