The Conservative Party has received a £5 million donation from a healthcare entrepreneur, it is understood.
A Tory source has confirmed to the PA news agency that Frank Hester, founder and chief executive of The Phoenix Partnership (TPP), has given the seven-figure sum to Rishi Sunak’s party in a boost to the Prime Minister’s spending power ahead of the next general election.
Sky News, which first reported Mr Hester’s gift, said the sum is likely to be disclosed by the Electoral Commission when it publishes its latest quarterly data on political donations.
It comes after commission records show that TTP donated £11,300 to the Tories in February and also £145,000 in March.
The company told The Mirror this month that the donations should have been made in Mr Hester’s name and that he had since repaid the money back to his firm.
According to the TTP website, Mr Hester founded the company in 1997 as he worked on integrated care models.
TPP describes the firm as providing “leading software that is transforming healthcare worldwide”.
In 2015, the businessman was made a member of the Order of the British Empire for his services to healthcare.
Mr Hester has been invited on several government trade missions in the past, including visiting India with then-prime minister David Cameron in 2013.
He appeared at number 321 on the 2023 Sunday Times Rich List, with the newspaper estimating his wealth at £415 million.
The Rich List said Mr Hester spotted an opportunity to build IT software for the NHS “when his GP wife grumbled about her computers at work”.
TTP has been contacted for comment.
Mr Hester’s donation will be welcomed by the Conservative Party, which said it would not be commenting, with an election likely to be called next year.
In 2022, the Tories, according to the Electoral Commission’s annual accounts, recorded a loss of £2.3 million in what the party described as a “turbulent year”.
Income from donations fell by £2.4 million compared with 2021, with party officials saying this was partly due to “donor pledges moving into 2023”.
But financial support in 2023 looks to be considerably up, with the party recording more than £12 million in donations in the first three months of the year.
That figure far outstripped rival parties, with Labour raising £4.4 million and the Liberal Democrats £1.3 million.
The total for the Tories in the first quarter of the year was boosted by a £5 million donation from Mohamed Mansour, the party’s senior treasurer and a former minister in the government of Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak.