Tory party donor Frank Hester's 'racist' comments about Diana Abbott to be investigated by police

22 March 2024, 09:57 | Updated: 22 March 2024, 10:12

Frank Hester
Frank Hester. Picture: Alamy

By StephenRigley

Police are investigating alleged racist comments made by Tory party donor Frank Hester at a meeting in 2019.

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West Yorkshire Police said the investigation had been passed over from the Metropolitan Police as the meeting took place in Horsforth, Leeds.

A spokesperson said officers were now "working to establish the facts and to ultimately ascertain whether a crime has been committed".

They added that the Metropolitan Police had been contacted on March 11 about a report in The Guardian, and that this was the first time the comments had been brought to the attention of police.

Protesters show solidarity with Diane Abbott outside the Home Office during the march against racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism.
Protesters show solidarity with Diane Abbott outside the Home Office during the march against racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism. Picture: Alamy

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It was reported that Mr Hester - one of the Conservative party's biggest donors - said Ms Abbott made him "want to hate all black women" and she "should be shot" during a company meeting.

Mr Hester later said he was "deeply sorry" for the "rude" comments, but insisted they had "nothing to do with her gender nor colour of skin".

The remarks sparked a Westminster row with opposition MPs demanding that the Conservatives return the £10m he and his company, The Phoenix Partnership, have donated to the party since 2019.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the comments were racist but the Conservatives have kept the cash and ministers have said Mr Hester had apologised and everyone should "move on".

The Metropolitan Police confirmed they were assessing the alleged remarks earlier this month after officers from the parliamentary liaison and investigation team contacted them.

But the matter has now been passed to West Yorkshire Police as the comments were said to have been made at a meeting in Horsforth, near Leeds.

A spokesperson for the force said: "Our officers have since been working to establish the facts and to ultimately ascertain whether a crime has been committed.

"We recognise the strong reaction to these allegations and appreciate everyone who has contacted us since the article was published."

They also appealed for anyone who could help the investigation to contact them in what they have called "Operation Brassminster".

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