A MAN has been arrested on suspicion of attempting to steal a copy of Magna Carta from Salisbury Cathedral on Thursday afternoon.
Wiltshire police said that a 45-year-old man had been taken into custody after a security alarm was triggered by attempts to smash open the document’s display case, located in the Chapter House.
He is being held on suspicion of attempted theft, criminal damage, and possession of an offensive weapon. He was released on conditional bail on Saturday while police continue to make inquiries.
Magna Carta is a charter of legal rights signed by King John in 1215, and is considered one of the world’s most important legal texts. The Salisbury copy, only one of four in existence, was not damaged in the attempted raid.
A spokeswoman for the Cathedral said: “We can confirm that at the end of the afternoon yesterday [Thursday], a man attempted to break into the case which houses Magna Carta in the Cathedral’s Chapter House. . .
“We are very relieved that no one was hurt during the incident, and that Magna Carta itself is undamaged.
“We are very grateful to all who dealt with the situation so swiftly and effectively.”
Salisbury Cathedral has had an eventful year. Visitor numbers have been down since the Russian poisoning in the town (News, 21 September).