Disgraced former Co-op Bank chairman Paul Flowers spoke for the first time since his arrest over drugs allegations, on the BBC Newsnight programme last night admitting, ‘I have sinned.’

The Methodist minister, who stepped down from the bank last summer spoke of a ‘hellish’ few months and said some of his ‘frailties’ had been exposed in the public domain.

The 63-year-old was arrested last November after the Mail on Sunday published footage showing him allegedly buying drugs.

In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with Newsnight which you can see a clip of here, he also revealed how the government had put pressure on the Co-op Bank before it aborted plans to buy 600 Lloyds branches.

He said ministers had made it clear they wanted the deal – which exposed for the first time the Co-op Bank’s poor financial health – to go ahead.

Mr Flowers, who is a former Labour councillor in Bradford and Rochdale, was chairman of the Co-op Bank from April 2010 to June 2013.

The bank had to be rescued last year after it was left with a £1.5bn capital shortfall, with many of its troubles stemming from its merger with the Britannia building society in 2009.

Since then it has been plunged into turmoil with a major management shakeup currently underway.