Donald Trump branded a 'disgrace' for claiming knife crime turned London hospital into a 'war zone'

US president seeks to justify gun ownership by pointing to surge in knife violence in London

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Saturday 05 May 2018 16:54 BST
Donald Trump at NRA convention: London hospital is like 'war zone for horrible stabbing wounds'

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Donald Trump’s claims that knife violence left a London hospital looking like a “war zone” have been branded a “disgrace” by MPs.

The US president made the comments at a pro-gun rally, where he sought to justify gun ownership by comparing his own country’s record to a surge in knife crime in London at the start of the year.

Opponents accused him of sensationalising the issue in his speech to the National Rifle Association (NRA), where he said an unnamed London hospital was “like a war zone for horrible stabbing wounds” with “blood all over the floors”.

The row comes ahead of Mr Trump’s official visit to the UK in July, which was postponed earlier this year amid fears over large-scale protests over the president’s divisive agenda.

Speaking at the NRA convention in Dallas, Texas: “I recently read a story that in London, which has unbelievably tough gun laws, a once very prestigious hospital right in the middle is like a war zone for horrible stabbing wounds.

“Yes that’s right, they don’t have guns, they have knives. And instead there’s blood all over the floors of this hospital. They say it’s as bad as a military war zone hospital.”

While it is unclear what story Mr Trump was referring to, London surgeon Martin Griffiths told the BBC last month that some of his military colleagues had compared the levels of carnage they experienced at the Royal London Hospital to their time at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.

Labour MP Sarah Jones, who chairs the all party parliamentary group on knife crime, posted on Twitter: “What a disgrace. Comparing apples and pears.

“Do we have a problem in the UK with rising knife crime? Yes we do.

“Is is any way comparable to off-the-scale US gun violence? No, of course not. He should be ashamed.”

Professor Karim Brohi, a suergeon and director of London’s major trauma network, also issued a statement describing the claims as “ridiculous”.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney, tweeted: “Hardly see how violent crime in London justifies the licensing of guns in the US.

“Last month a leaked Home Office doc stated that it was Tory police cuts that “likely contributed” to a rise in serious violent crime.”

Scotland Yard has launched 55 investigations into suspected murders this year, of which at least 35 victims were stabbed to death.

The government faced questions over the role of police cuts in the surge in violent crime, as official figures show the number of officers has fallen by 20,000 since 2010.

Sutton and Cheam MP Paul Scully, Tory vice chair for London, told The Independent: “Knife crime is a serious issue and it is far too important to sensationalise.

“There is no excuse for bringing it into a debate about gun crime.

“It’s very unhelpful. It sensationalises an issue which costs lives and ruins families.”

Liberal Democrat former cabinet minister Sir Ed Davey called on Theresa May to explain the importance of the UK’s strict gun laws in reducing violent crime.

“London has seen a disturbing rise in knife and gun crime but Donald Trump’s remarks are nevertheless ridiculous,” the Kingston and Surbiton MP told The Independent.

“To defend America’s shocking gun laws by revealing his ignorance of Britain should alarm even his apologists in the Conservative Party.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan declined to comment on Mr Trump’s latest intervention, which comes after the pair publicly clashed over the terror attack in London Bridge last year.

The president berated Mr Khan for saying there was “no reason to be alarmed” by the armed police on the streets, but the mayor hit back, saying he was too busy to deal with Mr Trump’s “ill-informed” comments.

Mr Trump will make his long-awaited working visit to the UK on 13 July, and the US ambassador Woody Johnson that demonstrations would not deter the “thick-skinned” president from coming to London.

Peers are planning a bid to allow him to address parliament from the Royal Gallery after he was banned from speaking in the Commons by the speaker, John Bercow, The Independent recently revealed.

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