U.K. Conservative Party Under Fire Over Donor’s Alleged Racist Remarks

Britain’s governing Conservative Party was under pressure Tuesday to return more than 10 million pounds to a donor who reportedly said that Diane Abbott, a prominent lawmaker, “should be shot,” and that looking at her made him “want to hate all Black women.”

According to an investigation by The Guardian newspaper, Frank Hester, a health care technology entrepreneur, made the comments in 2019, at a meeting held at the offices of his company, The Phoenix Partnership. He has apologized but has not confirmed the Guardian’s account of what he said.

Mr. Hester said on Monday that he “accepts that he was rude about Diane Abbot in a private meeting several years ago but his criticism had nothing to do with her gender nor color of skin,” in a statement released by his firm that misspelled her last name.

The statement added that he had called Ms. Abbott twice “to try to apologize directly for the hurt he has caused her, and is deeply sorry for his remarks,” and that he wished “to make it clear that he regards racism as a poison which has no place in public life.”

According to the Guardian, Mr. Hester said in the meeting: “It’s like trying not to be racist but you see Diane Abbott on the TV and you’re just like, I hate, 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 first Black woman to be elected to Parliament, Ms. Abbott, 70, is a prominent figure in British politics and spoke on home affairs issues for the opposition Labour Party under its previous leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

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