Five questions answered on the resignation of the Co-op’s Group chair

Why exactly has Len Wardle resigned?

Co-op.
Flying high: the headquarters of the Co-operative Group. Photograph: Getty Images.

The Co-op Group chair Len Wardle announced today (18 November) that he will resign from his position due to "serious questions" that have been raised following allegations relating to a former banking chairman he appointed. We answer five questions about the resignation.

Why exactly has Len Wardle resigned?

Wardle said he felt it was "right" that he stepped down after a former Co-op banking chairman, Paul Flowers, who was appointed in 2010 by a board led by Wardle, was filmed by the Mail on Sunday allegedly buying cocaine.

The Co-op has said it is investigating these allegations.

The company added that Wardle had resigned as chairman and from the board "with immediate effect".

Wardle held the position since 2007 but announced last month that he would leave in May 2014.

What has Wardle said about his resignation?

In a statement he said:

The recent revelations about the behaviour of Paul Flowers, the former chair of the Co-operative Bank, have raised a number of serious questions for both the bank and the group.

I led the board that appointed Paul Flowers to lead the bank board and under those circumstances I feel that it is right that I step down now, ahead of my planned retirement in May next year.

I hope that the group now takes the chance to put in place a new democratic structure so we can modernise in the interests of all our members.

Who will Wardle be replaced by?

Wardle will be replaced by Ursula Lidbetter, who is the Co-op Group's deputy chairwoman and chief executive of the Lincolnshire Co-operative Society.

What are other people saying about Wardle’s resignation and the allegations against Flowers?

The allegations against Flowers, who is also accused of being incompetent during his time at the bank, which ran from 2010 to as recent as last June, has raised concerns about how senior banking candidates are appointed.

Conservative MP Brooks Newmark told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Clearly he was not fit to be in that position and while obviously his performance was lamentable, I also think unfortunately that the regulators should be held to account on this.”

"They should have done their due diligence to see whether Mr Flowers was fit and proper to run a major financial institution."

What kind of changes to the appointment of senior bank members have been suggested?

It has been suggested there could be further regulation around this area.

However, former director general of the CBI, Lord Digby Jones, told the programme: "The problem you have got if you bring in more regulation is will it serve its purpose?"

"To do more background checks, excellent. To ensure that you get the best, not necessarily British [bankers, and to] ensure that banking can be a force for good in the country - if that calls for more rigorous implementation of the rules that you have then I'm up for that."

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