Combat knives evil, says head's widow

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Combat knives, easily bought over the counter in specialist shops throughout Britain, were yesterday branded symbols of evil by Frances Lawrence, whose calls for a good citizenship crusade attracted cross- party backing.

Mrs Lawrence, the widow of murdered headmaster Philip Lawrence, widened her appeal by demanding a ban on military-style knives.

In an interview on BBC Television's Here and Now programme last night, Mrs Lawrence refused to accept that nothing could be done to outlaw the weapons. "Sometimes it seems too difficult to get anything done, but its nonsense to say that nothing can be changed.'

With the Government facing continuing public pressure to ban handguns completely, rather than the partial ban announced last week after the publication of Lord Cullen's Dunblane report, Mrs Lawrence's statement is likely to renew calls for a knife ban to be included in future legislation.

Last December, her husband was stabbed to death outside his school in Maida Vale, London as he went to the assistance of one of his pupils. She said the emotional trauma she and her family suffered still continued.

Calling for a ban on all combat knives, she said : "Knife shops seem to me to symbolise evil - the evil that is on the streets. They are brutal. They are violent in themselves." She insisted that if there was a demand for a ban, and a strong public desire, it could be achieved. "It's nonsense to say it will take 20 years to close down [a knife shop]. That shop can be closed down within weeks." Talking about coming to terms with her husband's death, she said it was the manner of his death, the violence, that was very difficult to come to terms with. "I don't think I'll ever come to terms with that and I think that we have to sort out this growth of violence and it has to be stopped."

Knives, she said, were a physical symbol of evil. And on shops that openly displayed knives for sale, she added "You see violence in a window, you see it on display. It is quite unbelievable that these shops exist and that is one of my primary concerns."

She claimed there was a link between images of violence and actual incidents of violence, although such a relationship has never been academically proved.

"We know whatever the statistics tell us that there is a link between the violence that is bombarded at our children and the violence that some of them go out and inflict."

Last week, Learco Chindamo, 16, was convicted of the murder of Mr Lawrence and ordered to be detained during Her Majesty's Pleasure.