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Opinion

Abigail with attitude: Co-op's Flowers the 'Crystal Methodist'

One banker – although I use the term loosely – who might be wishing his mother could get him out of trouble is the Reverend Paul Flowers. This story has me spellbound. It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry. Flowers, who is now known by the sobriquet of the ‘Crystal Methodist’, was the chairman of Co-op bank which is owned by the Co-op Group, a mutual institution. Mutual institutions are owned by their depositors or policyholders and are not publicly listed on the UK stock exchange. I have to admit that until now the Abigail with attitude column has not focused its piercing gaze on the Co-op. This was a big mistake. The bank has been revealed as a cesspit of scandal and impropriety and it could well drag some big establishment figures down with it.

There are two parallel scandals – one personal, the other professional, and interlinked. In January 2009, Co-op Bank announced a merger with Britannia Building Society and, some three-and-a-half years later, the successor bank agreed to purchase 630 branches from Lloyds in a £750 million ($1.2 billion) deal. Then, in February 2013, the British regulators discover a £1.5

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