Magna Carta Hammer Thief Stopped in Salisbury Cathedral

October 30, 2018

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Police arrested a 45-year-old man on 25 October after he attempted to steal the best preserved of the four surviving 1215 copies of the Magna Carta at Salisbury Cathedral.

The would-be-thief used a hammer to try to break through the glass box protecting the “great charter” shortly before Evensong, but was wrestled to the ground. Police later stated the document, which forms the bedrock of religious freedom in British history, was not damaged.

The 1225 version of Magna Carta issued by Henry III

Sealed by King John in 1215, only four of the Magna Carta’s 63 clauses have remained part of English law to this day. The very first clause says, “… the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired.”

The thief targeted a copy of the 1215 Magna Carta held in Salisbury Cathedral

Barnabas Fund’s Our Religious Freedom campaign calls for a new law to permanently preserve all aspects of the religious freedoms announced in the Magna Carta and granted through the repeal of past restrictive laws. Freedoms that came under threat in the Casey review of 2016 which suggested that interpretations of Scripture should fit “with the views of mainstream society”.

To find out more about Barnabas Fund’s Our Religious Freedom campaign and to sign the petition calling for a new law to protect religious freedoms visit

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United Kingdom