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Thursday, 30 December, 1999, 16:05 GMT
Neighbours tell of 'Fort Knox'

Police stand guard outside Harrison's fortress-like home


Neighbours of reclusive former Beatle George Harrison said they were stunned that his attacker had managed to breach security at his mansion which they likened to "Fort Knox".

Harrison and his wife, Olivia, were injured as they fought off a man who had managed to slip through the sophisticated security net which surrounds their home in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.

Known as a very private man, the musician had stepped up security at Friar Park following an attempted break-in two years ago.

Three people cut a surveillance camera cable in a bid to enter the house, but were foiled by a back-up system.

The estate, just yards from Henley police station, is surrounded by high walls topped with razor wire and lit up by searchlights.

Safety fears

Visitors are checked by security guards before being allowed through the massive, reinforced electronic gates leading to the house, and the 17-hectare grounds are patrolled by guard dogs.

"It's like a fortress there," said David Cheney, landlord of the local pub, the Row Barge.

Neighbour Wayne Page, 34, said: "This is unbelievable news, I can't believe he's been attacked in his own home. I thought it was like Fort Knox in there."

The ex-Beatle's security concerns were borne out of a genuine fear for his own safety.

Harrison has received a number of death threats, particularly since the murder of fellow Beatle John Lennon by a crazed fan, Mark Chapman, in 1980.

In 1992, an obsessed stalker, known to the FBI, was arrested near the house.

Despite his private nature, neighbours described him as a pleasant man who happily mixed with locals on the few occasions he ventured out.

Mr Cheney said: "He's a very unassuming and natural person. He often pops down for a pint with one or two friends."

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See also:
30 Dec 99 |  UK
Harrison recovering after stabbing
30 Dec 99 |  UK
Sir Paul: Thank God they're OK
30 Dec 99 |  UK
George Harrison: The quiet one
30 Dec 99 |  UK
The Beatles' separate paths
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