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Tory Party Faces Backlash for Accepting Additional £150,000 Donation from Controversial Donor Amid Racism Row

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The Conservative Party received additional funding from donor Frank Hester following a scandal involving alleged racist remarks about Labour MP Diane Abbott. The issue began in March when it was reported that Hester had made derogatory comments about Abbott, the first black woman elected to the UK Parliament. Abbott has since described the continued financial support from the Conservatives to Hester as a "slap in the face to myself and all black women."

By Victoria Seabrook, journalist

Thursday, June 6, 2024, 11:

The Conservative Party received an additional donation of £150,000 from Frank Hester in March, just two days after Rishi Sunak publicly criticized remarks allegedly made by Hester about Diane Abbott, labeling them as "racist and wrong."

Today's release from the Electoral Commission shows that on March 8, Frank Hester donated £150,000 to the Conservative Party through his healthcare company, The Phoenix Partnership. The donation was accepted by the party on March 14.

Several days ago, claims surfaced that in 2019, a supporter of the Conservative Party expressed that Ms. Abbott, who made history in 1987 as the first black female Member of Parliament, provoked feelings of animosity towards all black women and suggested that she "should be shot."

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Rishi Sunak faced backlash for his initial reaction to the claims involving a significant Conservative party contributor, finally denouncing them as "racist" on March 12.

He refused requests to give back the funds, stating that the tech executive's regret should be acknowledged.

At the time, his party also remained silent about a further £5 million they received from Mr. Hester in January, which was before the controversy. This donation was only made public today by the Electoral Commission.

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Frank Hester expressed deep regret for his comments, acknowledging that they were disrespectful. However, he clarified that his critique was not related to her gender or race.

He also contributed an additional £10 million to the Conservatives last year, bringing his total donations to the party to £15 million.

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Today, following the announcement of an extra contribution, Ms. Abbott took to Twitter, stating, "Rishi Sunak has finally acknowledged that Frank Hester’s comments about 'making him despise all black women and deserving to be shot' were racist."

It has now been revealed that Sunak received an additional £5 million from him.

"A slight against myself and all Black women."

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Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper commented, "To what depths will Rishi Sunak's Conservative Party sink? Should they choose to utilize these funds, they would be openly accepting support from an individual known for his deeply offensive racist and sexist remarks."

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"We regard the issue as settled"

A spokesperson for the Conservative Party stated, "Mr. Hester has appropriately issued an apology for his previous remarks. Given that Mr. Hester has expressed remorse, we regard this issue as closed."

The financial support for the Conservative Party comes from its members, fundraising activities, and contributions. Every donation that needs to be reported is openly and accurately declared to the Electoral Commission, which then publishes these details, ensuring full compliance with legal standards.

They also mentioned: "Fundraising is a valid element of the democratic process."

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