Politics

Diane Abbott has said she is “glad” police are investigating alleged racist comments made by Conservative Party donor Frank Hester.

The remarks, first reported by the Guardian, were said to have been made by businessman Frank Hester during a company meeting in 2019, where he said Ms Abbott made him “want to hate all black women” and that she “should be shot”.

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”.

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West Yorkshire Police has launched an investigation after being passed the case by the Metropolitan Police, due to the comments allegedly happening in Horsforth in Leeds.

Ms Abbott said: “I reported Mr Hester’s alleged racist remarks and threats of violence to the Metropolitan Police. So I am glad that an investigation is now taking place.

“The alleged remarks took place in Leeds, so the Metropolitan Police are working together with the West Yorkshire Police on the investigation.

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“Women in public life should not have to live in fear, so I hope that this investigation is brought to a speedy conclusion”

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‘Remorse of donor should be accepted’

The reports led to a major row in Westminster, with opposition MPs demanding the Conservatives return the £10m he and his company, The Phoenix Partnership, had donated to the party since 2019 – with reports another £5m had also been put into Tory coffers.

But despite saying the comments were racist, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stood by keeping the cash, with ministers saying he had apologised and everyone should “move on”.

A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police 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”.

Asked about the latest development on Friday, Mr Sunak told reporters: “It wouldn’t be right for me to comment on police matters.

“But as I have said previously, what he said was wrong and racist and he rightfully has apologised for it.”

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