Man who smashed Chinese vases held

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A museum visitor who claimed he accidentally smashed three 17th-century Chinese porcelain vases after tripping over his shoelace has been arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage.

Nick Flynn, 42, claimed he had tripped and crashed into the vases from the Quing dynasty on a visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge in January.

A ceramic restorer is gluing together more than 400 pieces to recreate the vases and hopes to have one back on show by June.

Mr Flynn, 42, from Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire, was arrested at his home yesterday morning.

The museum director, Duncan Robinson, said last week it was difficult to estimate an accurate value for the vases but he thought they were probably worth about £500,000 in total.

He said they were not insured, although the museum might review its insurance policy in the light of what happened.

Mr Flynn, who is unemployed after a suffering a severe back injury, claimed he had tripped on his shoelace and tumbled down a staircase at the museum and into the vases.

He was photographed after his fall, lying amid the porcelain, and later described it as "my Norman Wisdom moment".