Sunak kept quiet about £5m donation made by race row Tory donor Frank Hester this year

Rishi Sunak accepted an additional £5m from Tory donor Frank Hester, who was accused of saying Diane Abbott “should be shot”, Electoral Commission figures show.

In a major boost to the Tories’ campaign war chest, the prime minister accepted the donation in January after Mr Hester donated £10m to the Conservative Party last year.

The latest data also revealed the Tories took a further £150,000 from Mr Hester. That donation was received on 8 March but accepted by the party on 14 March, three days after his comments were first revealed.

His other donations were made before the story broke. Mr Hester allegedly told colleagues that looking at Ms Abbott makes you “want to hate all black women”, adding that the veteran Labour MP “should be shot”.

Frank Hester allegedly made the comments in 2019 (Screengrab/PA) (PA Wire)
Frank Hester allegedly made the comments in 2019 (Screengrab/PA) (PA Wire)

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

The Labour stalwart wrote on X: “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.”

Mr Hester, founder and chief executive of The Phoenix Partnership (TPP), made the comments at a 2019 meeting at the firm’s headquarters, according to a Guardian investigation.

Discussing a female executive from another company, he reportedly said: “She’s s***. She’s the s***test person. Honestly I try not to be sexist but when I meet somebody like [the executive], I just …

“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. She’s stupid … If we can get [the executive] being unprofessional we can get her sacked. It’s not as good as her dying. It would be much better if she died. She’s consuming resource. She’s eating food that other people could eat. You know?”

Frank Hester allegedly said Diane Abbott should be shot (Getty)
Frank Hester allegedly said Diane Abbott should be shot (Getty)

Labour described Mr Hester’s comments as racist.

Mr Hester has apologised for making “rude” comments about Ms Abbott, the first black woman elected to Parliament, but claimed they had “nothing to do with her gender nor colour of skin”.

Mr Hester said: “The UK benefits immensely from the rich diversity of people - like my parents - who had roots in another land, religion and culture. We should celebrate those differences which have made us the world’s most successful multi-ethnic, multi-faith democracy.

“And we should have the confidence to discuss our differences openly and even playfully without seeking to cause offence.”

Labour said the latest donations exposed Mr Sunak as “a man with no integrity”. Party chairman Anneliese Dodds said: “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.”

And the Liberal Democrat said the Conservatives are “proudly funded by a man who made the most appalling racist and sexist comments”.

“How low can Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives go?” deputy leader Daisy Cooper added.

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

“No amount of tainted funding will stop the threat the Liberal Democrats pose to the Conservatives in many seats across the country.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (PA Wire)

As well as being the Conservative Party’s biggest individual donor, Mr Hester has personally funded Mr Sunak. The PM visited Mr Hester’s office on a £16,000 helicopter trip to Leeds paid for by the businessman last year.

The Conservatives will not hand back Mr Hester’s latest donation, with a spokesman saying: “Mr Hester has rightly apologised for comments made in the past. As Mr Hester has apologised and shown contrition and we consider the matter resolved.”