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Tories accept another £5m from donor Frank Hester in racism row

06 Jun 2024 4 minute read
Frank Hester. Photo via YouTube

The Conservative Party has accepted another £5 million from Frank Hester, the businessman accused of saying Labour’s Diane Abbott “should be shot”, new figures show.

Electoral Commission data released on Thursday showed the payments from Mr Hester’s healthcare software firm, the Phoenix Partnership, in January, before he became embroiled in a row over the alleged racist comments.

He also handed the Tories £10 million last year, taking the the total from the party’s biggest donor to £15 million.

Insult

Ms Abbott said the latest donation was “an insult to me and all black women”.

It was reported in March that the Conservative backer said in 2019 that Ms Abbott – who in 1987 became the first black woman elected to Parliament – made him want to “hate all black women” and “should be shot”.

Rishi Sunak came under fire for his handling of the fallout from the remarks.

The Prime Minister eventually condemned the remarks as “racist” but resisted calls to return the money, saying the tech boss’s “remorse should be accepted”.

Mr Hester admitted making “rude” comments about Ms Abbott, but claimed they had “nothing to do with her gender nor colour of skin”.

‘Racist’

In response to his latest donation, Ms Abbott tweeted: “Rishi Sunak belatedly admitted Frank Hester’s remarks that ‘I made him hate all black woman and should be shot’ were racist.

“Now it turns out Sunak accepted a further £5 million from him.

“An insult to me and all black women.”

Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said: “Rishi Sunak has proven he is a man with no integrity.

“He is too weak to return the money donated by a man who has made violent, misogynist, and racist remarks which belong nowhere near our politics.

“If Rishi Sunak had a backbone he’d have cut ties with Frank Hester months ago, returned the money and apologised properly to Diane Abbott.”

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “How low can Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives go? If the Conservatives spend this money they will be proudly funded by a man who made the most appalling racist and sexist comments.

“Ultimately the buck stops with Rishi Sunak. Sunak must personally intervene and make sure not a penny of this money is spent.”

Remorse

Cabinet minister Mel Stride refused to say whether the Conservatives should return the donations, while a Tory spokesman said the matter is resolved.

“I’m not going to get drawn in those kind of issues,” Mr Stride told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

“I believe that Mr Hester has shown considerable remorse since making those remarks, which were utterly unacceptable.”

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “Mr Hester has rightly apologised for comments made in the past. As Mr Hester has apologised and shown contrition we consider the matter resolved.

“The Conservative Party is funded by membership, fundraising and donations. All reportable donations are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with the law. Indeed, such observations can be made about who our donors are, precisely because our donations are transparently published.

“Fundraising is a legitimate part of the democratic process.”

Meanwhile, Labour accepted another £1.5 million from major donor Dale Vince’s company Ecotricity, according to the Electoral Commission data for the first quarter of 2024.

The green energy industrialist gave another £1 million to the Opposition party the day after the General Election was called, taking his total donations to £5 million, he told the Financial Times on Wednesday.

Mr Vince was criticised in March by deputy party leader Angela Rayner for saying “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” when asked about Hamas, the militant group that carried out the October 7 attacks on Israel.

‘Doctored clip’

But Mr Vince, a significant contributor to Labour’s war chest, said a “doctored” clip that gave a “false impression” of his Times Radio interview last year was part of a “right-wing smear” designed to “distract from the row” over Mr Hester.

UK political parties reported accepting some £22.9 million in donations and public funds in the first three months of the year, up from £20.9 million in the same period in 2023, according to the Electoral Commission.

Louise Edwards, director of regulation and digital transformation, said: “It is common to see donations to political parties grow ahead of an expected – and now scheduled – General Election. They reached £22 million in the opening quarter of the year.”

She added that the figures reflect the change to reporting thresholds, under which parties must, since the beginning of the year, report donations over £11,180 to the Commission.

“While there is no limit to the amount that parties can raise, there are spending limits in place for campaigning ahead of elections,” she said.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 days ago

How much of that ends up in ARTD’s back pocket ?

Perhaps he should resign…

Last edited 10 days ago by Mab Meirion
Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
10 days ago

When Diane Abbot is re-elected, that will be one in the eye for the detester and when the Tories have been thumped in the election, will he want his money back?

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