Frank Hester: Prime Minister under pressure over 'new £5m' from donor accused of racism

  • Written by Sam Francis
  • Political correspondent, BBC News

Rishi Sunak is under fresh pressure over his ties with Frank Hester – a donor to the party embroiled in a racial row – amid reports his party received £5 million more than previously known.

The Conservative Party did not deny the reports first Published by Turtle Mediathat she received as-yet-undisclosed money from Mr. Hester.

Party donations made after December are not scheduled to be released until June.

Labor and the Conservative Liberal Democrats have demanded the money be returned.

Mr Hester donated £5 million to the event last May, with a further £5 million donated through his company in November.

According to parliamentary records, he also gifted the Prime Minister the use of a helicopter for a political visit in November, worth £15,900.

Tortoise Media has now reported that the party has received a further £5m cash donation from him, which has not yet been announced, taking its total contribution to £15m over the past year.

The donation register, maintained by the electoral watchdog, is only updated every three months, meaning there is a delay before donations are announced.

The tech boss apologized for making “rude” comments about the former Labor MP, but said his comments had “nothing to do with her gender or skin colour”.

The Prime Minister described the comments as “racist” and “wrong”, but said Hester's apology should be accepted.

He said the party was committed to following donation reporting rules, and any gifts received would be announced “when the time is right.”

'No excuse'

Mr Sunak rejected repeated requests to return Mr Hester's donations during a fiery Prime Minister's Questions session on Wednesday.

In response to a BBC inquiry about the possibility of another donation from Mr Hester, the Conservatives provided a one-line statement: “The Electoral Commission will publish pledged donations in the usual way.”

One of the Conservative Party's biggest donors, the £10m he gave to the party last year is understood to have accounted for around a fifth of all donations to the party that year, which totaled £48m.

He is the founder and CEO of TPP, a Leeds-based health technology company that supplies records management systems to the NHS.

On Friday, the British Medical Association body that represents GPs in the UK issued a motion calling on him to resign and urging GP practices to “consider” his alleged comments before signing new contracts with his company.

Labor leader Anneliese Dodds said: “There is absolutely no excuse for the Conservatives to accept extra money from Frank Hester. They must repay this money before it reaches their coffers.”

“Rishi Sunak needs to pay back every penny, cut ties with Frank Hester and apologize unequivocally to Diane Abbott.”

The Liberal Democrats said that if the donation was confirmed “it would show that this scandal is worse than we thought”.

“Tory politicians need to learn that just because someone gives you millions of pounds does not make the unforgivable excusable.”

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