Advertisement

Tories should return all donations from Hester, says Yousaf

Tories should return all donations from Hester, says Yousaf

Scotland’s First Minister has said the Conservatives should tell donor Frank Hester “where his money should go” and return any funding received.

Mr Hester – the chief executive of healthcare software firm The Phoenix Partnership (TPP) – is accused of saying Labour MP Diane Abbott made him “hate all black women” and “should be shot”.

The Tories have been reluctant to describe the comments as racist, but opposition politicians have urged the party to return money Mr Hester has provided.

Speaking at an event at the London School of Economics (LSE), Humza Yousaf said the alleged comments from Mr Hester were not just “racist” and “sexist”, but were also “inciting hatred”.

He added: “If the Conservative Party had any moral principle, then they would return every single penny and tell him where his money should go – that is my honest view.

“First and foremost, can I say that I stand in full solidarity with Diane Abbott – she has been a trailblazer for many years.

Diane Abbott
Mr Hester’s comments were directed towards the Labour MP (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“We may have our differences on particular issues, but I stand full square behind and alongside Diane Abbott.”

UK energy minister Graham Stuart said on Tuesday that while the remarks were “ridiculous”, he would “hesitate” to describe them as racist, while the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “I wouldn’t usually comment on alleged words, second-hand accounts, etc.

“But, as minister Stuart said this morning, what is alleged and reported to have been said is clearly unacceptable.”

The Guardian reported Mr Hester told a company meeting in 2019: “It’s like trying not to be racist but you see Diane Abbott on the TV, and you’re just like… you just want to hate all black women because she’s there.

“And I don’t hate all black women at all, but I think she should be shot.”

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

Humza Yousaf
Humza Yousaf hailed Diane Abbott as a ‘trailblazer’ (PA)

The statement added: “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.

“He wishes to make it clear that he regards racism as a poison which has no place in public life.”

At the event on Tuesday, Mr Yousaf went further, accusing the Conservatives of being “institutionally Islamophobic”.

He said: “There is simply no doubt in my mind that the Conservative Party is not just riddled with Islamophobia, but institutionally Islamophobic – how could it not be when you hear the comments from Suella Braverman?

“When Lee Anderson – who was a senior member of the Conservative Party up until a few days ago – was able to make the comments he made about (London Mayor) Sadiq Khan and not a single senior Conservative, including the Prime Minister, was able to call it Islamophobic.”

Ms Braverman – a former home secretary – has previously said “Islamists” are “in charge”, while Mr Anderson, who defected to Reform UK this week, has said “Islamists” have “got control” of the capital, Mr Khan and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “An investigation and subsequent independent review, both conducted over several years by Professor Swaran Singh, found no evidence of institutional racism in the Conservative Party.

“Instead of dodging scrutiny, the First Minister should spend more time answering questions around his decision to ignore official advice and send taxpayers’ money to the controversial UNRWA.”