charlie hebdo
Around five million copies special edition of Charlie Hebdo were published worldwideGetty

More UK police forces have admitted they sought the details of people who purchased the issue of Charlie Hebdo released in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

Wiltshire Police previously issued an apology after it emerged an officer approached a seller at a newsagents in Corsham and requested the details of the four people who purchased the 'Survivors' issue' of the French satirical magazine.

Officers from Wales and Cheshire have now been found to have also asked for details about who bought the magazine – which featured an image of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed on its cover – in the wake of the Paris shooting which left 12 people dead.

Paul Merrett, 57, the owner of a newsagent in Presteigne, Wales, said police questioned him and his wife for 30 minutes about the magazine.

He told the Guardian: "There were questions asking where we got the Charlie Hebdo copies from, did we know who we sold them to – which we didn't say. We were a bit bemused because it was out of the blue.

"My wife said, 'Am I in trouble?' because she thought she was in trouble for selling them. They said, 'No, you're not in trouble' but just continued with their questioning for half an hour."

He added: "It was all about Charlie Hebdo. I guess they wanted names and addresses of people we sold them to, which we didn't tell them anything like that. We sold 30 copies."

'Reassuring the community'

A Dyfed-Powys police spokeswoman said the force requested details about those who purchased the magazine after "undertaking an assessment of community tensions" in the area.

She added: "Visits were made to newsagents who were maybe distributing the Charlie Hebdo magazine to encourage the newsagent owners to be vigilant. We can confirm the visits were only made to enhance public safety and to provide community reassurance."

A woman in Warrington, Cheshire, said she was "disturbed" by the force's actions after a police officer rang a newsagent which had ordered a copy of Charlie Hebdo.

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "My husband ordered a copy of the special edition of Charlie Hebdo from our local newsagent in North Cheshire.

"Several days later the latter had a phone call from the police, saying they'd been told that he had been selling and advertising Charlie Hebdo in his shop. He replied that this was untrue: he had supplied in total one copy, concealed, to a customer who was a French lecturer. I find the police action quite disturbing."

Det chief insp Paul Taylor, of Cheshire Constabulary, said he was not aware of the incident, but added: "We were aware of the potential for heightened tensions following the attacks in Paris. Therefore where it was felt appropriate officers visited newsagents to provide reassurance advice around the time of its publication."

Reports of police asking for the names of those who purchased the issue arose from a letter published in the Guardian from Wiltshire resident Anne Keat.

She advised people to carry a "degree of caution" after police sent a letter to her local newsagent asking for the names of the four customers who had purchased Charlie Hebdo.

"So beware, your badges may attract police interest in your customers," she added.

Wiltshire Police said the move followed an "assessment of community tensions across the county" and police had to consider if newsagents who sold the magazine were vulnerable.

A spokesperson added: "Wiltshire Police would like to apologise to the members of public who may be affected by this. Information relating to this specific incident has been permanently and securely disposed of.

"Wiltshire Police are confident that the police officer's intention was purely around enhancing public safety and ensuring that the newsagent was advised appropriately."