Man arrested after trying to steal Magna Carta in Salisbury

No damage to ancient document after suspect was caught ‘smashing glass case with hammer’

Magna Carta
(Image credit: Getty images)

A man has been arrested after trying to steal the Magna Carta from its display in Salisbury Cathedral.

The alarms at the Wiltshire cathedral were activated on Thursday afternoon when a man used a hammer to smash the glass box surrounding the original document, made in 1215.

A police spokeswoman told The Daily Telegraph: “A 45-year-old man is in custody this morning arrested on suspicion of attempted theft of the Magna Carta.

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“A man matching the description given by witnesses was arrested on suspicion of attempted theft, possession of an offensive weapon and criminal damage, and has been taken to Melksham custody for questioning where he remains.

“The Magna Carta has not been damaged and nobody was injured in the incident.”

Only four copies of the historical power-sharing agreement between the 13th century King John and his barons exist and Salisbury Cathedral “is home to the best preserved version”, says the BBC.

A spokeswoman for the cathedral said: “We can confirm that at the end of the afternoon yesterday, a man attempted to break into the case which houses Magna Carta in the Cathedral's Chapter House.

"He was arrested by police shortly afterwards and taken into custody. We are very relieved that no one was hurt during the incident and that the Magna Carta itself is undamaged.

"We are very grateful to all who dealt with the situation so swiftly and effectively."

She added that the Magna Carta has been temporarily removed from public view, but the cathedral aims to have it back on display as soon as possible.

Salisbury Cathedral proudly boasts of the iconic piece of history on its website, calling it “one of the most celebrated documents in English history”.

“At the time it was the solution to a political crisis in Medieval England but its importance has endured as it has become recognised as a cornerstone of liberty influencing much of the civilised world.”

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