[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 12 April 2007, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Blair gun crime speech attacked
Tony Blair
Mr Blair said laws needed to be 'significantly toughened'
An anti-gun crime campaigner has accused Tony Blair of quoting him out of context in a speech calling for black people to denounce gang violence.

Mr Blair said Rev Nims Obunge asked him "when are we going to start saying this is a problem amongst a section of the black community?".

But Rev Obunge said he had been making the case for more cash for black community groups.

And he did not support Mr Blair's call for tougher laws.

During the speech in Cardiff, Mr Blair - who is expected to resign after the May elections - said one of the consequences of approaching the end of his premiership was a tendency to "lurch into complete frankness".

Political correctness

He said he had been speaking to a black pastor of a London church at a Downing Street knife crime summit who had asked him: "When are we going to start saying this is a problem amongst a section of the black community and not, for reasons of political correctness, pretend that this is nothing to do with it?"

We are not asking for more legislation, I made that very clear when we sat together at Downing Street
Rev Nims Obunge

Eight teenagers have been shot or stabbed to death in London since the start of the year, most recently 14-year-old Paul Erhahon in east London.

Mr Blair told an audience in Cardiff laws on "knife and gun gangs" needed to be "significantly toughened" and the ring-leaders taken "out of circulation", with the youngest put in secure accommodation if necessary.

"The black community - the vast majority of whom in these communities are decent, law-abiding people horrified at what is happening - need to be mobilised in denunciation of this gang culture that is killing innocent young black kids," said MR Blair.

But Mr Obunge, leading member of grassroots anti-gun crime campaign The Peace Alliance, told the BBC he had been asking Mr Blair for "targeted support" from the government - not tougher laws.

He said the work already being carried out in the black community was not being given any "sustainable support".

"We are not asking for more legislation, I made that very clear when we sat together at Downing Street," he told Radio 4's Today programme.

"The prime minister has insisted that the way forward is to continue legislating on our young black kids."

Mr Blair's comments were also criticised by other groups, including the African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance, Lee Jasper - the mayor of London's equality adviser, and Churches Together in England.

Bishop Joe Aldred, secretary for minority ethnic Christian affairs for Churches Together in England, said: "I'm not sure where the prime minister has been, or who he's been talking to, if he thinks black communities have not been denouncing the gangs and gang activity.

"Black communities, particularly the black Christian communities, have not only been denouncing this evil, but have been hard at work, taking action to try to find solutions."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific