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Black ex-Boris Johnson aide joins criticism of Tory donor in ‘hate all blacks’ Diane Abbott row

Samuel Kasumu has called on the Frank Hester to ‘invest his time and resources’ into fighting against racism after his alleged comments about Diane Abbott

Zoe Grunewald
Tuesday 12 March 2024 16:15 GMT
Minister defends Tory donor support amid Dianne Abbott ‘racist’ remarks

A former Downing Street adviser to Boris Johnson says the Conservative donor who allegedly abused Diane Abbott should make amends by using his wealth to fight racism.

Author and member of the Tory party Samuel Kasumu said the apology by tycoon Frank Hester was not enough and that he must use his “time and resources” to show he was sorry for his comments about the Labour MP.

Mr Hester has come under fire after the Guardian claimed that he had made “reprehensible” comments about Ms Abbott in 2019 during a company meeting.

Author and member of the Tory party Samuel Kasumu said the apology by Frank Hester was not enough (Getty)

“It’s like trying not to be racist but you see Diane Abbott on the TV, and you’re just like... you just want to hate all black women because she’s there, and I don’t hate all black women at all, but I think she should be shot,” he is alleged to have said.

Responding to the claims, Mr Kasumu said people like home secretary James Cleverly and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch would not be in the cabinet had it not been for the trailblazing MP Ms Abbott, who entered the Commons nearly 40 years ago.

The former adviser said that although he disagreed with her political views, he would never have got a job in Number 10 himself had it not been for Ms Abbott’s “historic” lead.

“She ran so that people like me can walk,’ Mr Kasumu, 36, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Diane Abbott served in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet (PA)

He added: “As a black Brit, Diane Abbott is very historically significant. She was first elected in 1987, the year I was born. I wouldn’t have been a special adviser in Downing St if it wasn’t for Diane Abbott. Kemi Badenoch, Kwasi Kwarteng, James Cleverly, David Lammy wouldn’t be where they were today if it wasn’t for Diane Abbott.

“For many black Britons every time Diane is attacked we do feel it... we feel a sense of hurt because of her historical significance. Regardless of what our politics may be, and our politics do differ, she ran so that people like me can walk.”

Mr Hester was the single biggest donor to the Conservative party back in 2023, according to Electoral Commission records, having given the party £10m.

The party are now under pressure to return the money and condemn the donor’s comments, as the Labour party called on the Tories to “return every penny”.

Labour party chair Annelise Dodd said the comments are “reprehensible.”

She added: “Frank Hester is the Conservative Party’s biggest ever donor, as well as a personal donor to the prime minster, it is therefore vital that Rishi Sunak and the Tories return his donations, in full without delay.

“Rishi Sunak has claimed that words matter, and he must know that holding on to that money would suggest the Conservatives condone these disturbing comments. Sunak must return every penny.”

Mr Kasumu pointed to the murders of Labour MP Jo Cox and Conservative MP Sir David Amess and agreed that words matter, adding that Mr Hester’s comments were “completely abhorrent and unacceptable”.

Sir David Amess was murdered by a British Islamic State sympathiser (PA Media)

He said he did not support calls for the Tories to pay back the £10 million they had been given by Mr Hester, but that the businessman should use his fortune to atone for his remarks: “It is good that he has apologised. But it’s not enough, he must do more.

He added: “He is going to have to do more than try to call Diane Abbott. He is going to have to invest his time and resources into being part of the solution (to racism) because right now he is part of the problem.”

A statement released by Mr Hester’s firm said: “Frank Hester accepts that he was rude about Diane Abbott in a private meeting several years ago but his criticism had nothing to do with her gender nor colour of skin.

The Guardian is right when it quotes Frank saying he abhors racism, not least because he experienced it as the child of Irish immigrants in the 1970’s.

“He rang Diane Abbott twice today to try to apologise directly for the hurt he has caused her, and is deeply sorry for his remarks. He wishes to make it clear that he regards racism as a poison which has no place in public life.”

In response to a request by the BBC, a spokesperson for Mr Hester said the statement is not a confirmation of the alleged quotes.

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