A judge has issued an arrest warrant for former Co-op boss Paul Flowers after he failed to attend court.
Flowers, 73, was due to enter a plea at Manchester Crown Court on Wednesday to a charge that he committed a £68,000 fraud by abusing his position.
Prosecutor Brian Treadwell said the solicitor previously instructed by Flowers had now lost contact with him.
Judge Timothy Smith said: “I issue a bench warrant not backed for bail in light of his non-appearance and being no contact with his solicitor.”
Last month, Flowers made his first court appearance at Manchester Magistrates’ Court after two earlier hearings were aborted when his lawyers said he had recently suffered a stroke and could not attend.
On the last occasion the defendant walked slowly into the dock with the aid of a wheeled Zimmer frame.
Flowers, a former Methodist minister, Labour councillor in both Rochdale and Bradford and chairman of Co-op Bank between 2010 and 2013, did not indicate a plea.
He was told the case could not be dealt with at a magistrates’ court and was granted unconditional bail until Wednesday’s hearing.
The full charge against Flowers, from the magistrates’ court record, read: “Between 28/6/16 and 28/10/17 at Salford committed fraud in that while occupying a position, namely Enduring Power of Attorney, in which you were expected to safeguard, or not act against the financial interests of Margaret Mary Jarvis, you dishonestly abused that position intending thereby to make a gain, namely staircase, carpets and 11 cheques paid to the defendant, for yourself, contrary to Sections 1 and 4 of the Fraud Act 2006.”