Frank Hester: Accusations of Racist Remarks Against Diane Abbott by Tory Donor


Frank Hester, a significant donor to the Conservative Party, has issued an apology following reports that he made derogatory remarks about MP Diane Abbott. According to The Guardian, Hester allegedly stated that Abbott made him “want to hate all black women” and that she “should be shot”. The comments were reportedly made during a 2019 meeting. Hester, who heads a health tech firm and donated £10m to the Tories last year, admitted to making “rude” comments about Abbott but denied that his remarks were related to her gender or race.

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting condemned Hester’s comments in the Commons, calling them “utterly revolting, racist, and inciteful”. Hester is the founder and CEO of TPP, a Leeds-based company specialising in healthcare technology. He is one of the Conservative Party’s biggest donors, having donated £5m personally and another £5m through his company last year. In November, he also provided Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with a helicopter for a political visit, valued at £15,900.

The Guardian reported that Hester’s comments about Abbott were made while criticising a female executive at another organisation during a meeting at TPP’s headquarters in 2019. At the time, Abbott was serving as shadow home secretary under former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The BBC has not been able to independently verify the alleged remarks.

In a statement, TPP said that Hester “accepts that he was rude about Diane Abbot in a private meeting several years ago but his criticism had nothing to do with her gender nor colour of skin”. The statement also noted that Hester had attempted to apologise directly to Abbott for his remarks and expressed deep regret.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have called on the Conservatives to return Hester’s donations. A spokesperson for the Conservative Party stated that while Hester was rude, his criticism had nothing to do with Abbott’s gender or race, and he has since apologised.

Abbott, who was first elected in 1987, served in several shadow cabinet roles under Corbyn. She was suspended as a Labour MP last year after making controversial remarks about Irish, Jewish and Traveller people. She later withdrew her remarks and apologised. She currently sits as an independent MP pending an investigation.

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