A TORY minister has defended the Prime Minister’s decision to keep millions of pounds in donations from a businessman accused of making racist comments about an MP.

Appearing on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Transport Secretary Mark Harper was asked whether the Conservative Party would accept future donations from Frank Hester.

It comes after The Guardian revealed that Hester had said the UK’s longest-serving black MP Diane Abbott made him “want to hate all black women” and that she “should be shot”.

Harper said: “We took a donation that predated his comments and we’ve declared that in the usual way, which is how people know that he’s made that donation.

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“He’s made comments and he’s apologised for them and the Prime Minister has made it very clear that the donation stands.

“If in the future there’s a future donation, that will be declared in the usual way. But that’s a hypothetical question that will be looked at.”

In truth, Hester’s donations did not predate his comments, which were made in 2019.

Hester has donated £10 million the Conservative Party over the past year.

Kuenssberg then pressed Harper, adding that it was “not really a hypothetical question” as there were reports that he Hester offered the party yet another £5 million donation.

The National: Frank Hester has been strongly criticised for comments he made about Diane AbbottFrank Hester has been strongly criticised for comments he made about Diane Abbott

“I think our viewers might have expected, with respect Mark Harper, that you might have found this out before coming on our programme today because this has been a matter of huge public interest,” she said.

“Do you not ask those involved to tell you?”

Harper continued to dodge the question about whether the party had accepted a further £5m donation from Hester.

When asked whether his party had a problem with racism, Harper said that it his party was proudly led by the UK’s first British-Asian Prime Minister with the most ethnically diverse cabinet there has ever been.

Responding to the comments, businessman and Dragon’s Den star Theo Paphitis – who has previously donated money to the Tories and LibDems – said that citing the ethnicities of cabinet ministers did not address whether racism was an issue within the Conservative Party.

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“It’s correct what Mark Harper said: we have got one of the most diverse cabinets in the history of our politics.

“But they’re not acting like it. Just because you’re are black or Asian doesn’t mean that your thought patterns are in tune with the rest of society.

“There’s no question in my mind that those word were not just racist and abhorrent but totally unacceptable.

“Why did he even feel comfortable in modern day society to be able to say that you would shoot somebody and [that he spent time] hating all black women?

“What gave him the power to be able to say that unless the circles in which he’s mixing, those conversations clearly take place”.