A former chairman of the Co-operative Bank has apologised "to all I have hurt or failed by my actions" after it was reported that he has been caught buying and using illegal drugs including crystal meth, crack cocaine and ketamine.
The Mail on Sunday said that the Rev Paul Flowers, a Methodist minister, was filmed buying the substances just days after he was grilled by the Treasury Select Committee over the bank's disastrous performance.
The Rev Flowers, who chaired the Co-operative Banking Group and the Co-operative Bank for three years, issued a statement which said: "This year has been incredibly difficult, with a death in the family and the pressures of my role with the Co-operative Bank.
"At the lowest point in this terrible period, I did things that were stupid and wrong. I am sorry for this and I am seeking professional help, and apologise to all I have hurt or failed by my actions."
A Methodist Church spokesman said: "We expect high standards of our ministers and we have procedures in place for when ministers fail to meet those standards.
"Paul is suspended from duties for a period of three weeks, pending investigations, and will not be available to carry out any ministerial work. We will also work with the police if they feel a crime has been committed."
The Co-op has been trying to plug a £1.5 billion gap in finances which was discovered following the purchase of the Britannia Building Society and abortive plans to buy hundreds of Lloyds branches.