Banks puts ship treasure hunt on hold
Saturday 19 July 1997
Tony Banks, the culture, media and sports minister, issued the order on the Hanover, a mail ship, to prevent any "unauthorised interference because of the historical and archaeological importance".
The decision is likely to spark a row as the treasure hunter, Colin Martin, has spent upwards of pounds 1m in trying to find the site of the packet which sank off Cornwall in 1763 laden with gold, diamonds and cannons worth pounds 50m at today's prices. As recently as Thursday, his salvage company recovered 14 cannons from the ship, which lies on the seabed off Perranporth.
Last night, Mr Martin was taking legal advice and vowing to continue. He condemned the department's decision as "disgusting" because the company had been acting in a "perfectly correct manner".
"We're carrying on exactly as before because the ship is in danger. We removed the guns, so there's nothing to keep it there and it's going to end up smashed to pieces if there's a storm," he said
Earlier this year, the Post Office applied to get the wreck designated because it claimed ownership. It said the Hanover was part of the packet service which was the forerunner of the modern Post Office. But no order was granted.
However, a Department of Culture archaeological diving unit has been observing the salvage operations. The department decided to step in yesterday because the site was considered to be under "immediate threat".
To proceed, Mr Martin, 35, and his company, Hydrasalve, will have to apply for a diving licence. These may be granted to commercial divers but they have to satisfy the department they have a proper plan and expert advice.
The department spokeswoman said: "We need to be satisfied that the method of operation is acceptable and is not going to damage the archaeology of the site. The ship is a historic ship from the 18th century and had a valuable cargo."
A Post Office spokeswoman said it had not lobbied the department to obtain the order. But she added: "We are relieved that the wreck and its contents can now be surveyed and possibly salvaged in line with best practice. It will enable this part of our heritage - both national and Post Office - to be properly studied."
- 2 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 3 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
- 4 Ryan Gosling posts tribute to 'Ryan Gosling Won't Eat His Cereal' creator Ryan McHenry
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian combined with near-naked ensemble
General Election 2015: Photographic history of Bullingdon Club tracked down - including new picture of David Cameron in his finery
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...
£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...
£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...