A hammer-wielding man has been arrested after an attempted smash and grab of a Magna Carta from its display at Salisbury Cathedral.
Alarms went off when the would-be thief tried to break through the glass box which protects the charter on Thursday.
The suspect was held on suspicion of attempted theft of the document - claimed to be the best preserved of four original Magna Cartas.
It was not damaged and nobody was injured, police said.
The man was wrestled to the ground by staff when he attempted to flee after the attempted raid at 16:45 BST, the Dean of Salisbury said.
The Very Reverend Nick Papadopoulos said: "There were people around so the cry went up, it was pretty thick glass so it hadn't yielded easily despite having a hammer hit it.
"It was a great shock but everyone responded magnificently, both our staff and volunteers and members of the public.
"They raised a cry and he did not get away."
The drama unfolded just before Evensong near to closing time at the visitor centre.
Dean Papadopoulos added: "He had been carrying a hammer so our guys were very courageous.
many of the famous rivers of the world including, Nile, Amazon, Elbe, Yangtze, Mississippi, Columbia and Snake (recent), Volga, Ganges, Danube, Mekong, Rhine, Thames, Seine, Saint Lawrence, and Sacramento. I think in Cuba, it was the Tao River.
Defections from Moscow’s most powerful spy agency are so rare, there are believed to be just two living examples. One is Sergei Skripal, who almost died this year. The other talks
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The UK is home to a small group of Soviet and Russian defectors. The most prominent, Oleg Gordievsky, did immeasurable damage to Soviet intelligence, spending 11 years inside the KGB as a British double agent. Now 80, Gordievsky lives somewhere in the home counties. Suvorov hints that, since Skripal, his own security has increased.
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Skripal and Suvorov have never met, and it seems unlikely that they ever will. British intelligence discourages its Moscow assets from fraternising with each other, Suvorov says, a rule that came about following the 2006 murder of Alexander Litvinenko after he met former KGB agents and drank radioactive tea. Suvorov says he was a “good, good friend” of Litvinenko’s, and spoke to him after he was taken to hospital. Initially, he didn’t believe Litvinenko had been poisoned, but during one call, Litvinenko’s voice faltered “like a gramophone”, he says, and the mobile tumbled from his grasp. “Such a nice guy. Suddenly he was killed. A terrible death.”
Are Moscow’s spy agencies losing their touch? Suvorov says there has been a major falling off since the glory days of the GRU, in the 30s and 40s, when its agents stole US atomic secrets. This decay is part of a general debasement, he thinks, affecting everything in post-communist Russia, from rocket-building to journalism. The country is “slowly crumbing”, he says; those who can are moving abroad.
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