Durham Cathedral roof climbing students rescued

Durham Cathedral The Dean's House is part of the 920-year-old Durham Cathedral

Four students had to be rescued from a roof at Durham Cathedral during a drunken prank, it has emerged.

The quartet climbed on top of the Dean's House - part of the 11th century church - on Friday night.

Two fire crews and a police helicopter were called to get them down, in a rescue costing several thousand pounds.

The Dean of Durham, the Very Rev Michael Sadgrove said he was "deeply concerned that the cathedral has been treated with such disrespect".

It is believed the students were copying so-called "night climbers" from Oxford and Cambridge who scale walls and buildings and roam around the rooftops, but they got stuck and were unable to get down.

'Reckless disregard'

The helicopter was needed to find them on the cathedral buildings.

Dean Sadgrove said: "Durham University has been brought into disrepute. The taxpayer has had to bear the costs of a wholly unnecessary emergency call-out.

"But what most worries me is the reckless disregard the students had, not only for their own lives, but for others in particular colleagues here at the cathedral and members of the emergency response team.

"Alcohol has obviously played a key part in this dangerous adventure and it is vital that this issue is addressed for the sake of good relations between Durham city and the university, and the welfare of the students themselves."

Durham Police said the students received a warning for their behaviour.

The university is investigating the incident, which it said it was taking "very seriously".

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