'You're Not Going To Answer The Question': Tory Minister Clashes With Nick Ferrari Over Race Row Donor

Maria Caulfield refused to be drawn on Frank Hester's firm receiving £400m in NHS contracts.

LBC presenter Nick Ferrari clashed with the health minister over £400 million-worth of NHS contracts linked to a Tory donor at the centre of a race row.

Maria Caulfield repeatedly refused to say whether she was “comfortable” with Frank Hester’s company benefiting from taxpayers’ money.

Hester is alleged to have said Diane Abbott made him “want to hate all black women” and “should be shot”.

On LBC this morning, Ferrari asked Caulfield whether the contracts his company, The Phoenix Partnership, has with the NHS “should be reviewed”.

She replied: “I’m on the record with my comments about those and I stand by those - they were not acceptable comments to make.

“I don’t control the contracts the NHS has with individual organisations.”

Ferrari replied: “No, but you are a minister in the department. Are you comfortable with the NHS, I presume, sending millions of pounds the way of this man and his firm?”

The minister said: “That is a matter for NHS England.”

The presenter replied: “No, respectfully minister, it’s a matter for you. I asked how comfortable you are personally with that.”

Caulfield said: “The comments he made he apologised for and we should take that as an indication that he regrets what he said.”

Ferrari hit back: “No minister, the question is how comfortable are you? If I was running an organisation and I’d seen the comments made by this man, I’d want to see every single contract we had with and I would cancel or order a review.

“My question for a third time, how comfortable are you that you’re part of a department that sends millions of pounds to this man’s firms?”

The minister pointed out that NHS contracts are agreed by NHS England rather than the Department of Health.

But Ferrari said: “His firm, Phoenix Partnership, is a major NHS supplier. He’s received more than £400m in contracts from the NHS since 2016. You are a health minister. For the fourth time, how comfortable are you with £400m going the way of this man?”

Caulfield said: “NHS England will be looking at their contracts, but that is a matter for them, it is not a matter for ministers.”

The exasperated presenter then said: “I’m asking how comfortable you are personally, but I sense you’re not going to answer the question are you, so we’ll move on.”


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