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Tories quiz Miliband over links to ex-Co-op chair Flowers

Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps has written to Labour leader Ed Miliband with questions over his links to former Co-operative Bank chairman Reverend Paul Flowers.

Separately, the BBC reports that West Yorkshire Police officers have searched the Bradford home of Flowers as part of an investigation into whether he bought and used illegal drugs.

In a statement to the BBC, West Yorkshire Police said: “Officers executed a search warrant at an address in Hollingwood Lane, Great Horton, Bradford, yesterday [Tuesday] as part of their investigation into alleged drugs offences arising from a national Sunday newspaper story.”

Flowers, a former Labour councillor in Bradford, was filmed allegedly buying crystal meth and crack cocaine by the Mail on Sunday, just days after appearing before the Treasury select committee.

Flowers also sat on a senior policy advisory panel of Labour figures, the Business and Industry Advisory Group, to discuss banking and economic affairs.

Labour has a £1.2m loan agreement with the Co-op Bank and has received millions of pounds in donations from the Co-op Group.

There are 32 Labour MPs who campaign on a joint platform with the Co-operative party, the political wing of the co-operative movement with strong links to the Co-op Group.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, who is the most prominent joint Co-op and Labour party MP, received £50,000 in political donations from the company.

Co-operative chairman Len Wardle has quit with immediate effect over the scandal as MPs attacked the regulators for approving the “incompetent” Flowers.

In a blitz of questions, Shapps asks how many times Miliband met Flowers and whether he gave the party banking and economic advice.

He also asks whether Labour will stop all political donations while The Co-operative Group undertakes a governance review in the wake of the revelations.

Shapps wrote: “The latest revelations about the conduct and behaviour of Paul Flowers have shocked and appalled the public. They have also raised serious questions about the Labour Party to which you have not yet adequately responded.”

Speaking to Money Marketing, Conservative MP Mark Garnier also says Labour have questions to answer.

He says: “There has to come a question about how much Labour knew. I think Labour would welcome the opportunity to clear the air of any accusations they had anything to do with his appointment as chairman.”

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