Porter holds key to crime

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A tenacious college porter yesterday vowed to track down the graduate responsible for one of Cambridge University's most notorious student pranks.

Twelve years ago a piece of history, in the form of an eight-inch key, disappeared from Christ's College. Now it has turned up at the porterhouse - out of the blue.

The mystery began in 1984 when the original key to Christ's 491-year- old Great Gate was stolen from the porter's lodge. College fellows resigned themselves to the key becoming the permanent souvenir of a former student.

The Great Gate, built when the college was founded in 1505, had to be dismantled for a replacement key to be made.

But now the key has been returned anonymously by post, in a package bearing a Leeds postmark, and the head porter Jeremy Taylor has vowed to track down the culprit.

Mr Taylor, who has become porter since the key's disappearance, will be going through lists of that year's undergraduates to find clues to the whodunnit.

That year Cambridge boasted a large number of sporting celebrities among its glitterati - many now forging successful careers around the world.

Among them were the international rugby players Gavin Hastings and Rob Andrew, along with the future England players Fran Clough, Kevin Simms and Mark Bailey.

Cricket had its international representative in Peter Roebuck, who went on to play for Somerset.

Mr Taylor will also have to examine the sense of humour of the comedians Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis as well as television presenter Nick Hancock - all undergraduates at the time.