Trump's London knife crime comments ridiculous, says surgeon

Media caption,
Trump: Blood on London hospital floor

A senior London surgeon has hit back at US President Donald Trump for criticising the level of knife crime in the city while defending US gun laws.

Prof Karim Brohi, who heads the group overseeing the city's trauma treatment, said it was "ridiculous" to suggest guns could help combat knife violence.

He said the capital faced a "serious issue" but gunshot wounds were at least twice as lethal as knife injuries.

Mr Trump's comments came in a speech to the National Rifle Association (NRA).

The US president's address at the firearms lobby's conference on Friday also caused anger in France.

In it he suggested the 2015 attacks on Paris could have been stopped by giving people guns. He mimicked gunmen summoning and shooting victims one by one, saying "Boom! Come over here!" and using his hand to imitate a gun being fired.

In the speech in Dallas, Texas, Mr Trump referred to reading 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".

It is unclear where Mr Trump sourced his information. However, leading London trauma surgeon Dr Martin Griffiths, who works at the Royal London Hospital, told BBC Radio 4 a month ago that his hospital was likened to an Afghan war zone.

The interview was the basis for a Daily Mail article.

Prof Brohi, who is also a trauma surgeon at the Royal London, is clinical director of the London Major Trauma System Directorate. The organisation has responsibility for co-ordination and policy development between hospitals in and around London dealing with serious injuries.

Image source, Barts Health NHS Trust
Image caption,
Karim Brohi is clinical director of the London Major Trauma System Directorate

In a statement released by Barts NHS Trust, he said: "We are proud of the excellent trauma care we provide and of our violence reduction programmes.

"The Royal London Hospital has cut the number of our young patients returning after further knife attacks from 45% to 1%.

"There is more we can all do to combat this violence, but to suggest guns are part of the solution is ridiculous. Gunshot wounds are at least twice as lethal as knife injuries and more difficult to repair.

"We are proud of our world-leading service and to serve the people of London."

Dr Griffiths had earlier responded to Mr Trump on Twitter with an image suggesting the president had missed the point, adding that he was "happy to invite Mr Trump to my prestigious hospital".

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

He had told the BBC last month about treating stabbing victims "on a daily basis".

Dr Griffiths said: "Some of my military colleagues have described their practice here as being similar to being at [Helmand province's former Camp] Bastion."

He added: "We routinely have children under our care, 13, 14, 15 years old are daily occurrences, knife and gun wounds."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Mr Trump is due to visit the UK on 13 July, after previously cancelling a trip amid calls for mass protests.

Referring to London in his NRA speech, Mr Trump, had said 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. Knives, knives, knives, knives." He mimed a stabbing motion.

"London hasn't been used to that. They're getting used to it. It's pretty tough."

'Totally spurious'

At least 38 people in London have lost their lives to knife crime so far this year, the Met Police has said.

But Marian Fitzgerald, a criminologist at the University of Kent, said although there had been a spike in knife-related deaths in London, it was a separate issue to gun control.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's just politically convenient, in a speech to the gun rights lobby, to try and make those comparisons and they are totally spurious.

The Met Police and London Mayor Sadiq Khan declined to comment on Mr Trump's latest remarks.

Last year Mr Trump criticised Mr Khan for his handling of terrorist attacks in the city.

Image source, Getty Images

In a tweet, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said she could "hardly see how violent crime in London justifies the licensing of guns in the US".

Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Sir Ed Davey acknowledged crime had risen in the capital, but said Mr Trump's remarks were "nevertheless ridiculous" and revealed "his ignorance of Britain".

The Home Office has not responded to the comments.

Trump's other controversial claims about the UK

  • The US president was criticised by Prime Minister Theresa May after he retweeted anti-Muslim videos posted online by the deputy leader of the far-right Britain First group. Mr Trump told her to focus on "destructive radical Islamic terrorism" in the UK, rather than on him
  • Mr Trump linked a rise in recorded crime in England and Wales last October with the "spread of radical Islamic terror". The statistics covered offences ranging from burglary to fraud, prompting politicians to describe his comments as "inflammatory" and "ignorant"
  • During his campaign for the US presidency in 2015, Mr Trump told MSNBC police were afraid to enter certain parts of London because they were "so radicalised that the police are afraid for their own lives". Then prime minister David Cameron's official spokeswoman said the view was "wrong"

It was Mr Trump's fourth address to the NRA and his second in office. The last president to do so was Ronald Reagan in 1983.

The lobby supported Mr Trump during his 2016 presidential election, spending more than $11m (£8m) in advertisements for him, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

After a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, left 17 dead in February, Mr Trump said he would "fight" the NRA on gun control. But he later said there was "not much political support".

His administration, however, has taken steps to ban bump stocks, which allow a rifle to shoot hundreds of rounds a minute.

More on guns in the US