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Clueless crossword thief gets a National Library pass

Ombudsman says senior citizen can be allowed back into library hall

The elderly man's crossword mania took him a step too far. Photo: Shutterstock

The elderly man's crossword mania took him a step too far. Photo: Shutterstock

An elderly crossword fanatic caught trying to smuggle pages of the London Times News Review out of the National Library has been allowed to get back to his puzzles.

The man used to visit the National Library every week to copy the crossword and other games in the London Sunday Times, which he read fervently.

But his crossword fervour took him beyond the letter of the law on one occasion when he ran out of reading time and decided to try to sneak two pages of the newspaper out with him. 

His puzzling move was caught on CCTV cameras, and the library director barred him access to the library's main hall. 

The man turned to the Office of the Ombudsman for help, asking Ombudsman Anthony Mifsud to help him have the suspension overturned. 

READ: Retired police sergeant asks the Ombudsman to help get him a medal

The curious case is among several which feature in the Office of the Ombudsman's 2017 case notes. The Office, which falls under Parliament's remit, is tasked with looking into complaints filed by aggrieved citizens. While the Ombudsman can investigate and recommend a course of action, the  Office's decisions are not binding. 

In the case notes, the Ombudsman noted that the man had explained his theft by noting that the National Library only allowed access to hard copies of newspapers for one week. 

With the clock ticking on his reading time, the elderly man opted to try to steal away with the newspaper pages, rather than miss out on copying them. 

Ombudsman Mifsud noted that the newspaper pages in question did not form part of the national collection and library officials were already thinking of giving the elderly man access to certain parts of the National Library. 

Furthermore, 10 months had passed since the man was booted out of the National Library and that the scope behind the suspension "had been achieved." 

Library officials and the Education Ministry's permanent secretary agreed with the Ombudsman, and the man was once again allowed access to his beloved crosswords on April 1, 2017. 

 

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