Man released on bail after attempted theft of Magna Carta – REGIONAL

Salisbury Cathedral where a 45-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted theft of the Magna Carta. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Salisbury Cathedral where a 45-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted theft of the Magna Carta. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

A man who was arrested on suspicion of attempting to steal the Magna Carta from Salisbury Cathedral has been released on conditional bail.

Staff had wrestled a man wielding a hammer to the ground after the attempted theft of one of the oldest surviving copies of the Magna Carta on Thursday just before 5pm.

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: 'The 45-year-old man has been bailed while our officers continue making enquiries.'

The man has been bailed until November 20.

Alarms were set off at the cathedral when an attempt was made to smash the glass box surrounding the ancient manuscript.

The Magna Carta was not damaged and nobody was injured in the incident.

Visitors watched in horror as the protective glass casing around the historic document in the Chapter House of the building was smashed, leaving three holes in the display.

The more than 800-year-old manuscript was saved from being 'very seriously damaged' by a second layer of glass, the Dean of Salisbury said on Friday.

The Rev Canon Nicholas Papadopulos said cathedral employees cornered and restrained the vandal as he tried to leave.

Salisbury Cathedral's copy of the text is one of four that remain in existence from the original 1215 charter.

King John issued the Magna Carta after agreeing peace terms with a band of rebel barons and it is now one of the world's most celebrated legal documents.

It established for the first time that neither monarch nor government was above the law and set out principles of liberty which echoed through the centuries.

A police spokesman said: 'We are still appealing for witnesses; if you were in the cathedral at the time and have not spoken to police, please get in touch via 101 and quote crime reference number 54180101438. Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.'