Rishi Sunak urged to give £5m from Tory donor at centre of racism row to veterans’ charity after D Day snub

Call from the Liberal Democrats comes after Frank Hester allegedly told colleagues that looking at veteran Labour MP Diane Abbott makes you ‘want to hate all Black women’ and that she ‘should be shot’

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Friday 07 June 2024 13:02 BST
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Sunak leaving D-Day an 'embarrassing dereliction of duty', Labour says

Rishi Sunak has been urged to give £5 million from a Tory donor at the centre of a race row to a veterans' charity.

The Liberal Democrats said it was the “least that our veterans and service personnel deserve" after the prime minister made the decision to leave the D-Day commemoration events early on Thursday.

Earlier this week it emerged Rishi Sunak accepted an additional £5m from Tory donor Frank Hester, who has been accused of saying Diane Abbott “should be shot”.

The money was a major boost to the Tories’ campaign war chest, after Mr Hester donated £10m to the Conservative Party last year, Electoral Commission figures show.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaking during the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy. He later returned early to the UK. (Jane Barlow/PA)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaking during the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy. He later returned early to the UK. (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

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”.

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

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”.

Liberal Democrat defence spokesperson and veteran Richard Foord said: “The Prime Minister has badly let down veterans and our country. He disrespected his office and the United Kingdom.

"Yesterday it emerged that the Conservative Party accepted another £5m from Frank Hester, a man who has made the most appalling racist and misogynistic comments.

"Rishi Sunak must personally ensure this money is donated instead to a veterans' charity as an apology for his absence yesterday. It's the least that our veterans and service personnel deserve."

Veteran Labour MP Diane Abbott was the subject of the comments
Veteran Labour MP Diane Abbott was the subject of the comments (Getty Images)

Alongside his role as the Conservative Party’s largest 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 have said they will not hand back Mr Hester’s latest donation.

A spokesman said: “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.”

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