CRIME
10/26/2018 12:45 pm ET

Man Armed With Hammer Tries To Steal Original Copy Of Magna Carta

Police arrested the unnamed suspect as he fled England's Salisbury Cathedral.

Police in Salisbury, England, have arrested a 45-year-old man they say tried to steal an original copy of the Magna Carta from Salisbury Cathedral late Thursday.

The unnamed suspect used a hammer to smash holes in the protective glass box surrounding the 803-year-old document, but was unsuccessful in reaching the document itself.

Police arrested a man they say attempted to smash and grab an original copy of the Magna Carta in Salisbury, England.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Police arrested a man they say attempted to smash and grab an original copy of the Magna Carta in Salisbury, England.

The Wiltshire police said the would-be thief was detained after alarms sounded and he attempted to flee.

“He walked out of the Chapter House and tried to leave the cathedral via our work yard and he was detained there and restrained until the police arrived,” the Very Rev. Nick Papadopoulos, the dean of Salisbury, told the BBC.

“He had been carrying a hammer so our guys were very courageous,” said the dean.

The Very Rev. Nick Papadopoulos stands next to the damaged glass case.
PA Ready News UK
The Very Rev. Nick Papadopoulos stands next to the damaged glass case.

Only four original copies of the Magna Carta remain in existence. The cathedral bills its document as “the best preserved original manuscript” of the four. It was unharmed in the incident.

King John signed the Great Charter in 1215, approving basic legal principles such as equality before the law and the right to a fair trial.

“At the time it was the solution to a political crisis in Medieval England,” Salisbury Cathedral say on its website, “but its importance has endured as it has become recognized as a cornerstone of liberty influencing much of the civilized world.”

The basic tenets of the Magna Carta inspired other major political documents including the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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