The drugs and alcohol charity Lifeline has alleged that Paul Flowers, the disgraced former chair of the Co-operative Bank, claimed tens of thousands of pounds in false expenses while he was on its board, according to national media reports.
The Daily Mail newspaper reported today that Flowers, a former chair of the Manchester-based charity, claimed false expenses amounting to £150,000 from the charity while he was on the board between 1992 and 2004.
Ian Wardle, the charity's chief executive, told Sky News that he had raised questions about Flowers' expenses in 2004 and the former Methodist minister was asked to account for his claims item by item. Wardle said the "total cost of clearing up the mess" left by Flowers during his time at the charity was about £150,000.
Sky News said that the charity launched an investigation into Flowers’ expenses and that a report had been sent to the Charity Commission.
"I developed concerns at the beginning of 2004 about some of the claims that had been made, and I spoke to our treasurer at the time," Wardle told Sky News. "We then involved our solicitor and then, to cut a long story short, in June 2004 I raised the matter formally, fully and in depth with our trustee body.
"Our trustee body suspended Reverend Flowers and then we investigated the claims, and we investigated five years of claims."
Wardle said that he had filed a 70-page report on the matter to the Charity Commission.
Nobody from Lifeline was available to return calls or emails from Third Sector on Thursday morning.
A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said the charity contacted the regulator in 2004 to inform it of concerns about expenses payments made to a former trustee.
"We are working to establish the details of the charity’s report to us and our regulatory response," she said.
The reports come after The Mail on Sunday’s release of a video featuring Flowers apparently counting out money so that an acquaintance could buy cocaine.