Tories Under Mounting Pressure To Return Money From Donor Over Diane Abbott Comments

Frank Hester has apologised for his remarks.
Diane Abbott has been the subject of abuse throughout her political career.
Diane Abbott has been the subject of abuse throughout her political career.
Guy Smallman via Getty Images

The Tories are under mounting pressure to return millions of pounds from the party’s largest donor after he allegedly said Diane Abbott made him “want to hate all black women” and that she “should be shot”.

Frank Hester, who gave the Conservatives £10 million last year, has apologised for his remarks, which were first reported by The Guardian.

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”.

The statement added: “He rang Diane Abbott twice today to try to apologise directly for the hurt he has caused her, and is deeply sorry for his remarks. He wishes to make it clear that he regards racism as a poison which has no place in public life.”

Former Tory minister Alistair Burt is among those demanding his party hand back the money it has received from Hester.

He wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “Return the donations, end the relationship and ask decent donors to make up the difference. With MPs under threat, and past murders, this is unacceptable.”

Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds said: “Frank Hester is the Conservative Party’s biggest ever donor, as well as a personal donor to the Prime Minster, it is therefore vital that Rishi Sunak and the Tories return his donations, in full without delay.

Rishi Sunak has claimed that ‘words matter’, and he must know that holding on to that money would suggest the Conservatives condone these disturbing comments. Sunak must return every penny.”

Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said: “These comments are inexcusable and disgusting. Ultimately the buck stops with Rishi Sunak.

“He must reassure the public that the Conservative Party do not tolerate these remarks. That means confirming that his party will return every penny of these donations and won’t take any more from this donor in future.”

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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