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Tories 'given further £5million' from 'racist rant' donor Frank Hester

Healthcare entrepreneur Frank Hester is said to have told colleagues that Diane Abbott “should be shot” during a company meeting in 2019 (PA Wire)
Healthcare entrepreneur Frank Hester is said to have told colleagues that Diane Abbott “should be shot” during a company meeting in 2019 (PA Wire)

The Conservative party has received a further £5million from a donor who was condemned for allegedly saying that Diane Abbott made him “want to hate all black women”, according to a report.

Healthcare entrepreneur Frank Hester is said to have told colleagues that the former shadow home secretary “should be shot” during a company meeting in 2019.

Downing Street called his alleged comments “racist and wrong” but have refused to hand back the £10million donated by Mr Hester and his company, The Phoenix Partnership.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have called on the Prime Minister to pay back the sum.

Tortoise Media reported that Mr Hester has given the party a further £5million that has not yet been declared, as the Electoral Commission only publishes its list of donations every three months.

The outlet said the party was “sitting on” the extra cash, which brings the total donation to £15million.

The Conservatives did not deny the additional payment [when asked by Tortoise], saying only that declarable donations will be published by the Electoral Commission “in the usual way”, with the next update due in June.

Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said on Thursday: “Frank Hester’s remarks were clearly racist, misogynistic and have no place in our politics.

“There is absolutely no excuse for the Conservatives accepting additional money from Frank Hester. They should pay this back before it hits the coffers.

“Rishi Sunak needs to pay back every penny, cut ties with Frank Hester and apologise unequivocally to Diane Abbott.”

Lib Dem chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said: “The Conservative Party must urgently confirm whether these reports are true and if so hand this tainted money back.

“The Conservative Party has dragged its feet in condemning these racist remarks for what they are. If that was in any way linked to this £5million donation it would show this scandal is even worse than we thought.

“People like Hester and his attitudes need to be nowhere near our politics. Conservative politicians need to learn that just because someone gives you millions of pounds that does not make the inexcusable, excusable.”

In a statement released via his firm, Mr Hester said he had rung Ms Abbott on Monday to “apologise directly for the hurt he has caused her”.

“Frank Hester accepts that he was rude about Diane Abbot (sic) in a private meeting several years ago but his criticism had nothing to do with her gender nor colour of skin,” the statement said.

Ms Abbott, who has called Mr Hester’s comments “frightening”, accused the Conservatives and Labour of failing to tackle racism.

She said the “reluctance to call out racism and sexism” was “shocking, but hardly surprising”, and warned the Conservatives would “play the race card… ruthlessly” at the next election.