The small English cathedral city of Salisbury at the center of an international investigation into the Novichok poisonings is once again in the spotlight.
A 45-year-old man was arrested Thursday for trying to steal a copy of the Magna Carta from the city’s famed cathedral. The 803-year-old document is widely considered one of the most important documents in history.
The man smashed the glass box that houses the document — considered one of the most important in British history — at around 5 p.m., according to a Wiltshire police statement.
It was not damaged and no one was injured in the incident, police said.
The culprit, who has not been named, was later arrested for attempted theft and possession of “an offensive weapon and criminal damage.”
The Magna Carta, or “great charter,” was a peace agreement intended to stop an English rebellion against King John in 1215, giving rise to an alternative to government by absolute power. It was the first document to put into writing that no man, including the king, was above the law.
The edition held in Salisbury Cathedral is one of four remaining. It is handwritten in Latin — the language of all official documents of the period — on a single piece of calfskin. The other three surviving copies are held by the British Library and Lincoln Cathedral.
In a statement, Salisbury Cathedral said it was thankful “to all who dealt with the situation so swiftly and effectively,” adding that their copy of the Magna Carta will not be available to visitors “for the time being” but that it will be back on display as soon as possible.
The document has inspired democracies around the world, with its message influencing the US Constitution and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
SOURCE: Kara Fox