The Conservative Party’s biggest donors – from Mohamed Mansour to Frank Hester

A top tory donor has received a knighthood on the recommendation of the prime minister

Albert Toth
Friday 29 March 2024 08:45 GMT
Minister says he would accept another £10m donation from Frank Hester

Tory senior treasurer Mohamed Mansour, who was appointed to the role after donating £5m to the party, has been awarded a knighthood on the recommendation of Rishi Sunak.

Mr Mansour, a businessman and former Egyptian politician, has made a number of charitable donations over the years, including to causes which raised money for Covid-19 victims in the UK. No 10 have pointed to this in answer to concerns around his knighthood.

Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds said: “This is either the arrogant act of an entitled man who’s stopped caring what the public thinks, or the demob-happy self-indulgence of someone who doesn’t expect to be prime minister much longer.”

It comes after the Conservative Party became embroiled in a political row as it was alleged top donor Frank Hester made racist comments about MP Diane Abbott to colleagues.

The West Yorkshire businessman reportedly said Ms Abbott makes you “want to hate all black women” and said the MP “should be shot.”

Mr Hester has made over £10 million in donations to the Conservatives over the past two years, making him the biggest donor of Rishi Sunak’s premiership. Mr Mansour is the third highest donor.

Here are the biggest donors to the Tories since the last general election:

Lord John Sainsbury – £10.85m

John Sainsbury was made a life peer in 1989
John Sainsbury was made a life peer in 1989 (Getty Images)

Lord John Sainsbury was chair of the Sainsbury’s supermarket chain for 23 years, from 1969 to 1992. He was knighted in 1980, and made a life peer in 1989.

When he died in 2022, he bequeathed a record £10.85m donation to the Conservatives – the largest single donation ever given to the party.

This £10m sum substantially added to the £2.35m Lord Sainsbury had donated since 2007, making him the biggest single donor to the party this century.

His donation went specifically to the Conservative Party Foundation, which funds bursaries for parliamentary candidates and builds long-term funding for the party.

His cousin, Lord David Sainsbury has also been the biggest donor to the opposition Labour Party, donating £17.88m since 2005.

Frank Hester – £10.17m

Frank Hester speaking in 2022
Frank Hester speaking in 2022 (PA Wire)

Frank Hester is a businessman from Leeds, West Yorkshire, and founder and CEO of The Phoenix Partnership (TPP) software company.

Last year, Mr Hester made donations to the Tories totalling £5.17m through his IT company, as well as a £5m personal donation. This makes him the biggest donor to the Conservatives during Rishi Sunak’s premiership.

In 2023, it was found that Mr Hester had profited from £135m of NHS contracts between 2019 and 2022, throughout the height of the Covid pandemic.

During these four years, Mr Hester was the only shareholder of TTP, making him the sole recipient of over £20m in dividends. He appeared on the Sunday Times Rich List, with an estimated wealth of £415m.

In 2023, Mr Hester wrote an open letter to the NHS, saying: “We are here for our NHS. We are here to help. Not to drive profits for shareholders, or to grease revolving doors.”

TTP supplies software to around 2,700 GP surgeries in England as well as providing data services that enable medical records to be held electronically.

Writing in The Telegraph after making his £5m donation, Mr Hester said: “As a businessman from Yorkshire I have been fortunate enough to have met the prime minister.

“He shares my passion for harnessing the data revolution to transform the way we as citizens access healthcare”.

Graham Edwards – £5.31m

Graham Edwards is co-founder of property investment company Telereal Trillium, or TT Group. He became Executive Chairman in 2018, having been Chief Executive since 2001. He has donated £5.31m since the 2019 general election and £5.52m overall, first donating in 2018.

Mr Edwards’ tax arrangements have come under scrutiny in the past. In 2007, a tribunal judge blocked a complex tax avoidance scheme set up by KPMG for their clients, including Mr Edwards.

The property tycoon was found to have wrongly tried to reduce the tax on £5m he received in bonuses.

A spokesman for Mr Edwards said at the time: “Two decades ago Mr Edwards received a bonus and paid full tax and National Insurance on it, on the day he received it,”

“The scheme mentioned was a KPMG-led tax reclaim scheme that HMRC disallowed. Mr Edwards paid all taxes properly and never received any penalty from HMRC”.

In December 2022, Mr Edwards was appointed Conservative Party treasurer by Rishi Sunak. Nine previous holders of this role have gone on to receive peerages.

Mohamed Mansour – £5.12m

Mohamed Mansour speaks during a press conference at Snapdragon Stadium, 2023
Mohamed Mansour speaks during a press conference at Snapdragon Stadium, 2023 (USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

Mohamed Mansour is an Egyptian businessman and former politician. He has led the Mansour Group family business alongside his two brothers since the death of his father in 1976. It reports an annual revenue of $7.5bn.

Since 1997, the group has run the Africa and Middle East dealership of the Caterpiller Inc (CAT) construction equipment company. It does this through subsiduary companies Mantrac Group and Unatrac.

It is through Unatrac that Mr Mansour has made several donations to the Conservatives totalling over £600,000 since 2015. In January 2023, he made a substantial personal donation of £5m to the party in his and his son’s name.

After being investigated by the HMRC, Mr Mansour’s Unatrac agreed to set aside $4m for backdated tax after being found to owe $3.15m in unpaid corporation tax between 2015 and 2018. Unatrac gave no comments.

In December 2022, Mr Mansour was appointed senior treasurer of the Conservatives by Mr Sunak

From 2006 to 2009, Mr Mansour was Egypt’s minister of transport under autocratic president Hosni Muburak, who ruled for three decades from 1981 to 2011.

In 2010, Mr Mansour set up Man Capital, the Mansour Group’s private investment subsidiary, based in London. He remains chairman while his son, Loufty Mansour, is the CEO.

JCB and the Bamford family – £3.27m

Former PM Boris Johnson and JCB chairman Lord Anthony Bamford
Former PM Boris Johnson and JCB chairman Lord Anthony Bamford (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

British construction equipment giant JCB is also amongst the Conservative Party’s largest donors.

Through owners the Bamford family and the companies’ subsidiaries, JCB has gifted the Tories around £11m since 2001, including £2.8m since the last general election.

The largest individual donor is chairman Lord Anthony Bamford, giving over £281,000 since 2007. This includes £166,250 in donations to former prime minister Boris Johnson. The Sunday Times Rich List puts Lord Bamford and his family’s wealth at £5.9bn.

Lord Bamford was first recommended for a peerage by David Cameron in 2010. He withdrew his name that year, but then joined the House of Lords later, in 2013.

Lord Bamford and his brother Mark are both currently under investigation by the HMRC for allegations of avoiding UK tax over a period of two decades, The Guardian revealed in October 2023.

The reported civil investigation has been underway for three years, and spans a complex network of offshore tax havens and companies. The HMRC has refused to confirm or deny the reports.

Neither the Bamfords nor a legal representative for either of them has commented on the investigation yet.

The last donation from a JCB subsidiary to the central Conservative party was £25,000, made in September 2023.

Christopher Wood – £2.02m

Professor Christopher Barry Wood has donated £2.38m to the Conservatives since 2014, including £2.1m since the 2019 general election. He has made 89 donations since February 2014.

Prof Wood has not made any public comments about his donations to the Conservative Party. He is a founder and director of several biotechnology companies. In 2009, he founded Medannex, a biopharmaceutical company that develops cancer and autoimmune disease treatments.

In February 2024, the company appointed Sir Graham Brady MP as a non-executive director. The veteran Tory MP said: “I am delighted to be joining the team of this young and exciting life sciences company.

“Medannex has won awards for its pioneering work in areas of unmet medical need and I look forward to being an active part of its continued progress. The UK is looking to companies like Medannex for the next phase of our country’s growth.”

Prof Wood added: “It’s a real pleasure to welcome Sir Graham to the board of directors of Medannex. He adds a new and important dimension to the company in its quest to develop new treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases.”

Richard Harpin – £2.005m

Richard Harpin is the founder and CEO of Homeserve, a multinational UK-based home repairs business. He is originally from Huddersfield, Yorkshire, now residing in Nun Monkton.

Mr Harpin has donated £2.74m to the Tories since 2008, with £2m coming since the 2019 general election. He was the UK’s 254th richest person in 2023 according to the Sunday Times Rich List, with a worth of £630m.

In 2014, Mr Harpin’s company Homeserve was fined a record £30m by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for ‘widespread failings’ related to misselling insurance policies.

Responding to the fine, Mr Harpin said: “We have transformed the business, rebuilding and strengthening the management team, retraining staff and restructuring systems and controls.”

Amit Lohia – £2.00m

Nicknamed ‘The Prince of Polyester,’ Amit Lohia is the vice-chairman of Singapore-based textile giant Indorama Corporation. Founded by his father and grandfather in 1975, Mr Lohia has been part of his family’s business since 1995.

In March 2023, Mr Lohia made a £2m donation to the Conservative party, his first and only so far. His father Sri Prakash Lohia was the UK’s 33rd richest person in 2023, according to The Sunday Times Rich List, with a worth of £5.846bn.

Mr Lohia also sits on the board of sister company Indorama Ventures, which manufactures plastic resins, polyester yarn and wool products.

The business came under scrutiny last year when it was found to be a majority shareholder in hygiene fabrics firm Avgol, which has a production line in Russia’s Tula Oblast region.

“Amit Lohia is a non-executive director of Indorama Ventures Ltd and made the donation in a personal capacity,” said a spokesperson for Mr Lohia.

“Avgol Russia makes materials used in babies’ nappies and feminine hygiene products. It represents less than 0.19% of Indorama Venture’s operations”.

Malcolm Healey – £1.90m

Malcolm Healey is a billionaire businessman, and owner of Wren Kitchens. He has run the fitted kitchen retailer since founding it in 2009.

He has donated £2.15m to the Tories since the 2019 general election, and £4.17m overall since his first donation in 2017. The 2023 Sunday Times Rich List puts Mr Healey and his family’s net worth at £2.5bn.

In late 2021, The Independent revealed that Mr Healey’s company Wren Kitchens claimed millions in furlough money during the Covid pandemic – despite recording a £75.3m profit.

This was not unlawful, but Labour MP Rushanara Ali told The Independent : “This goes against the whole spirit of the furlough scheme.”

“It is unjust and immoral for a billionaire Tory donor’s firm to take taxpayers’ money to pay staff when their business is not in need, at a time when millions were struggling and continue to struggle to make ends meet.”

Neither Mr Healey nor Wren Kitchens responded to The Independent’s requests for comment.

Alan Howard – £1.58m

Alan Eldan Howard is a billionaire British hedge fund manager and co-founder of Brevan Howard Asset Management LLP. In 2019, he stepped down as the firm’s chief executive, but retains overall control.

Mr Howard’s annual pay from Brevan Howard was £82m in 2023. He is the UK’s 100th richest man according to the Sunday Times Rich List, with a worth of £1.75bn in 2023.

He has donated £1.8m to the Conservative party since 2005, £1.5m coming in just over four years, since the 2019 general election.

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