Man arrested trying to steal Magna Carta
A MAN has been arrested after allegedly trying to smash the case holding the Magna Carta with a hammer in a bid to steal it.
The suspect, 45, was arrested at Salisbury Cathedral on Thursday afternoon, with the building having to be evacuated while police responded, The Sun reports.
Officers arrested the man on suspicion of attempted theft, possession of an offensive weapon, and criminal damage.
On-lookers said that members of the public originally spotted the danger and intervened.
"We were walking past the cathedral as the alarms started, and everyone was starting to come out," one witness said.
"As we got to the stonemason's gateway we heard some shouting and could see a few people coming out of the gates so we stopped.
"It looked like some men 'play-fighting' but as they got through the gates I saw a hammer drop to the floor and one of the men kicked it into the road while another man held on to him.
"They then held onto him with hands behind his back while they picked up the hammer - lots of people around started to come over. The men really did a good job."
The Magna Carta, which dates to 1215, has not been damaged.
Salisbury Cathedral has confirmed the incident, adding that "for the time being our copy of the Magna Carta will not be available to visitors". However, it promised it will be back on display soon.
In a statement, Wiltshire Police said: "Shortly before 5pm yesterday alarms were activated at Salisbury Cathedral after an attempt was made to smash the glass box surrounding the Magna Carta. Staff were alerted and police were called.
"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 police confirmed that the Magna Carta was not damaged and nobody was injured in the incident.
This article originally appeared in The Sun and was republished with permission.