'It Was Half A Decade Ago': Tory Minister Defends Party Donor Embroiled In Race Row

Graham Stuart also said the Conservatives "welcome" money from all sources.
Graham Stuart made his comments on Sky News.
Graham Stuart made his comments on Sky News.
Sky News

A Tory minister has defended the party’s biggest donor who allegedly said Diane Abbott made him “want to hate all black women” and that she “should be shot”.

Graham Stuart said Frank Hester’s comments were “half a decade ago” as he tried to downplay the significance of the row.

The Conservatives are coming under mounting pressure to hand back the money to Hester, who gave the party £10 million last year.

Hester, who runs health tech firm TPP, allegedly made the remarks at a meeting in 2019.

Talking about a female executive at another firm, he reportedly said: “It’s like trying not to be racist but you see Diane Abbott on the TV, and you’re just like I hate, 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.

″[The executive] and Diane Abbott need to be shot.”

TPP said Hester “accepts that he was rude about Diane Abbott in a private meeting several years ago but his criticism had nothing to do with her gender nor colour of skin”.

Asked to comment on Hester’s comments on Sky News this morning, energy minister Stuart said: “They were clearly reprehensible, he has apologised profusely and rightly and tried to reach out to Diane Abbott specifically to apologise to her.

“It was half a decade ago, clearly those comments were wrong and he is right to apologise and I support him doing so.”

Presenter Wilfred Frost then asked the minister whether the Conservatives should hand back the money it has received from Hester.

Stuart replied: “We can’t cancel anybody from participation in public life, or indeed donating to parties because they said something intemperate and wrong in their past.

“It’s not my decision, but I do welcome those who support the Conservative Party to ensure that we have Rishi Sunak - our first Hindu prime minister.”

Frost replied: “You welcome it? Not returning the money is something else, you’re saying you welcome his money?”

Stuart said: “I said I welcome all those who seek to ensure that our first Hindu prime minister stays prime minister and that we don’t have Keir Starmer becoming prime minister.”

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “Mr Hester has made clear that while he was rude, his criticism had nothing to do with her gender nor the colour of her skin. He has since apologised.”


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