Conservative UK Donor Faces Backlash For Allegedly Saying Black Lawmaker Makes Him “Hate All Black Women” And “Should Be Shot”

(Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)

A major donor to Britain’s ruling Conservative Party, The Tory Party, is facing backlash because of shocking comments he made stating that a Black member of Parliament made him “want to hate all Black women” and that she “should be shot.”

Frank Hester, chief executive of healthcare software firm The Phoenix Partnership, made the remarks about Diane Abbott, the first Black woman elected to Parliament and the country’s longest-serving Black lawmaker.

The Guardian reported that Hester said at a company meeting in 2019, “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.”

The remarks were published last week as part of an investigation by The Guardian newspaper. Hester said he phoned Abbott to apologize Monday for the “hurt he has caused her,” according to a statement from his company.

“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 color of skin,” the statement said. “He wishes to make it clear that he regards racism as a poison which has no place in public life.”

Hester’s remarks were condemned by opposition parties, which called for the Conservative Party to return the 10 million pounds ($12.8 million) he donated last year.

Labour leader Keir Starmer criticized Hester’s apology, stating it failed to acknowledge the racist nature of his comments. “The comments about Diane Abbott are just abhorrent,” Labour leader Keir Starmer told ITV. “This apology this morning that is pretending that what was said wasn’t racist or anything to do with the fact she’s a woman, I don’t buy that I’m afraid, and I think that it’s time the Tory Party called it out and returned the money.”

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and members of his party initially refrained from labeling the remarks as racist. Sunak later condemned them after Cabinet minister Kemi Badenoch, who is Black, denounced Hester’s racism.

In a statement, Sunak described Hester’s comments as “racist and wrong,” adding that Hester had “rightly apologized for the offense caused.”

The Metropolitan Police in London and West Yorkshire Police are assessing the matter after Hester’s comments were reported following The Guardian’s story. 

Initially elected to the House of Commons in 1987 as a Labour Party MP, Abbott is now an independent after being kicked out of the Labour Caucus for remarks that suggested Jewish and Irish people do not experience racism “all their lives.”

Abbott expressed alarm at Hester’s remarks, particularly given her public visibility and the fact that she walks or takes public transportation most places because she doesn’t have a car. She emphasized the concerning nature of such comments and their impact on her safety and well-being as a public figure and woman.

“It is frightening,” Abbott said. “I am a single woman, and that makes me vulnerable anyway. But to hear someone talking like this is worrying.”

Although upset by the comments, Abbott said she was not shocked due to the racist abuse she regularly receives.

“Reading his remarks, I was upset but not surprised. This is partly because I am hardened to racist abuse. I receive hundreds of abusive emails, phone calls, and letters monthly, and the numbers shoot up whenever I am in the media. Most of this correspondence targets my appearance, questions my intelligence, and features classic racist lines such as: ‘Go back to where you come from,’” she told The Guardian.

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