December 14, 2007 / 5:15 AM / 10 years ago

Banning samurai swords

LONDON (Reuters) - The government said Wednesday it would ban the sale of samurai swords because the weapons had been used in a number of serious, high-profile attacks.

The Home Office said the swords would be added to the Offensive Weapons Order from April next year, meaning they could not be imported, sold or hired.

However collectors of genuine Japanese swords and those used by martial arts enthusiasts would be exempt from the ban.

“In the wrong hands, samurai swords are dangerous weapons,” Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said.

“We recognize it is the cheap, easily available samurai swords which are being used in crime and not the genuine more expensive samurai swords which are of interest to collectors and martial arts enthusiasts.”

The Association of Chief Police Officers said the swords were not a common weapon but they had been used in a number of significant incidents.

In 2000, Robert Ashman murdered a Liberal Democrat councilor at the offices of Cheltenham MP Nigel Jones, who was also seriously hurt in the attack.

A year earlier, Eden Strang seriously wounded 11 people when he went on the rampage with a samurai sword at a Roman Catholic Church near his home in Thornton Heath, south London.

Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Tim Castle

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