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Locksmith Blog | Locksmiths Blog | Blog
Friday, 15 April 2011
Unlocking a deadlocking snib with no letterbox
Topic: Locksmith Jobs

A few days ago i encountered my first deadlocked nightlatch where the snib had managed to activate as the door was slammed shut, and of course this door had no letterbox.

Another good locksmith showed me a method to unlock these a few years back however iv never hasd the opportunity to test it out.

The basic principle is to remove the cylinder from the door, then drill a hole in the back of the nightlatch to manipulate the back of the snib button.

So heres how i got on:

To remove the cylinder you need to break the two retaining screws on the rim cylinder. Luckily for me it was only a cheap one and not a solid brass one which would have been far messier.

The best method (if you dont have a fancy rim snapper bar) is to drill top right and left of the cylinder face, angles slightly downwards on the face of the cylinder. This will prevent you drillin the actual securing screws and hit directly on the bit of brass holding it in.
 rim cylinder lock removal

Once you have fractured both retaining areas you may need to get a good screwdriver in there just to wiggle thecylinder until the screws free off, it should then drop straight out.

You are then left with the 32mm hole and the cylinder back plate.

If you can identify the type of nightlatch now it would be useful to locate the position of the snib, however the usual location is to the bolt side of the lock (frame side).

Yale nighlatch opening

Drill yourself a decent sized hole approx 10mm on the edge of the 32mm hole angled slighlty towards the frame side of the door.
This is absolutely bang on target for the Yale nightlatch i was working with and probably the majority of the nightlatches you will encounter.

Once the backplate has peen penetrated try not to go in any further and damage the lock. Using a poke wire locate the snib and deactivate. Open with flat blade screwdriver.

Posted by Rick the Pick at 8:38 AM BST
Updated: Monday, 2 May 2016 4:20 PM BST
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Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Dealing with nutters? O_o Locksmith Blog
Topic: Locksmith Jobs
Every once in a while i get called out to a job that i cannot wait to get away from.

Today for example, i turned up to do a free home security survey. The door opened and i was greeted by a fairly normal looking woman in her thirties.

As i was about to walk in the door i noticed the postcards stuck in the window relating to various conspiracy theories and government cover ups.

I was half way through the door and i realised it was now too late to turn back...

Basically one of those customers that was completely stark raving mad, the house was in an odd state and i tried my best to get away as quickly and politely as possible without offending.

The customer was very paranoid about security and had alarms, locks and hasps on everything, even the loft hatch, and locked the door behind me on the way in *GULP*

These are never nice situations to be in and luckily i escaped unscathed on the promise of providing her with some high security locks for her door.

Literally anything could happen on a job like this; getting attacked, getting accused of attacking, etc. These kinds of people are usually easilly offended, angered or upset and should be dealt with utmost caution!

So my question is, how would you deal, or have you dealt with a similar situation?

Its not my first and im sure it wont be the last...


Our friends at Pennine Security Solutions - Locksmiths in Sheffield have a new website, please check it out :-)

Posted by Rick the Pick at 5:14 PM BST
Updated: Thursday, 6 December 2012 5:32 AM GMT
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Sunday, 27 March 2011
Locksmith snapper bars, and custom tools
Topic: General Chatter

Im currently suffering the slipped disk of hell in my lower back to bring you this update, sitting on this chair is murder so i hope you appreciate my sacrifice :-D

locksmith tools

Unfortunately, this weekend saw the death of one of my favourite locksmith tools, the snapper bar. It was only a budget SKS job but its seen me through hundreds of jobs before finally cracking up, leaving me right in the shite on an important job, Anyone thats had to open a thumbturn euro with a rounded off end will undertsand how difficult it is to hammer the plug round whilst engaging the cam in the lock... Not my finest moment but another experience point earned.

lock snapper bar

Anyway, i replaced the old tool with a new (i think its a pink's) budget snapper bar that has removable ends that screw into the main bar. An interesting design, however i fear the weak point may be the bar itself. I can see the tubing splitting further down the line around the threading...only time will tell.

Its been one of those quiet weeks thats seen me pottering around my shed making things and counting stock. One of my experiments was to make one of those key turners for curtained deadlocks.

locksmith key turning tool

Using only the junk i could lay my hands on and a tad of dremmel work i came up with this design; i think you will agree the handle is pretty cool salvaged from a battered old combo padlock from the pound shop.

Also managed to get a bit of lock picking practice in again. I really have lost my mojo as of late, thus the heavy usage of my snapper bar.
Best pick of the week was probably this garrison padlock picked with a half diamond southord pick, although brand new out the box wasnt going to be too awkward.

garrison padlocks

Posted by Rick the Pick at 7:33 AM BST
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Wednesday, 2 March 2011
uPVC Door Locks - Common Problems
Topic: General Chatter

I wrote this article for the benefit of locksmiths who would like to add a little useful content to their websites.

Please dont copy and paste!

I would appreciate a link to this page in return for the use of the information.

 Common upvc door lock problems

 Door not locking properly / Stiff handle...

There are several reasons why your upvc door could be failing to lock correctly:
If the handle has been feeling a bit stiff and the key wont fully turn anymore, chances are that your upvc door is out of alignment. This can be caused by swelling and contracting of the upvc door at differing temperatures or from general wear and tear on the upvc door due to repeated slamming or hanging on the door itself. This can be sorted by adjusting the hinges of the door to re-align the keeps in the frame. once the lock is operating smoothly without obstructions the key will turn.
You can get similar symptoms due to debris in the upvc door frame preventing the door from shutting true. Regular cleaning of dirt and stones out of the frame will prevent this.

Door will only lock from one side...

If you find that your upvc door only seems to lock from one side of the door and the other will not allow a full turn of the key, then you will need a replacement lock barrel. This is caused by the central cam of the lock cylinder slipping out of alignment. General causes seem to be due to worn keys and lock components often as a result of heavy use and substandard quality locks,
You will need to call your local locksmith to replace the cylinder with a new one of correct size.

This  is a relatively quick job if there are no other complications.

Handle is spinning all the way round, not opening the door...

This is often the aftermath of not getting your upvc door adjusted when it has been feeling stiff.

Prolonged forcing of the handle puts massive strain on internal parts and eventually they WILL break!
You have broken the spindle inside the lock back box and will need either a replacement backbox or entire locking unit, depending on the type of multipoint lock fitted.
You will need to call a local locksmith to open the upvc door and order the new parts which can be pricey therefore it is important that you get your door adjusted when early symptoms of stiffness occur.

Lost Keys / Locked out...

This is definitely a job for an emergency locksmith,

DO NOT attempt to force the upvc door open as you may cause more serious damage to the multi-point lock. An experienced locksmith should be able to pick or drill the lock to open the door cleanly without permanent damage. Once the upvc door is open the lock cylinder can be removed and a new one fitted,

Lock Cylinders

Often, the cylinders fitted in new upvc doors are not the best quality and may not be suitable to satisfy your insurance requirements. Exterior door locks need to conform to BS3621 and should display a stamped kitemark on the lock. A good example is the new Yale antisnap lock.

These upvc locks will be more expensive than bog standard ones, however provide considerably more protection against drilling, snapping and picking or bumping the lock.

There are many brands of lock that exceed the British Standard rating and offer incredible protection against unauthorised opening. These demand a high price but would be well worth investing in for protecting high risk premises.

The lock cylinder should not protrude more than 5mm from the handle of the door, ideally they should sit flush.

Locks that stick out from the face of the door more than 5mm are a considerable security flaw and you should contact a locksmith to arrange the fitting of a correct sized lock.

Posted by Rick the Pick at 1:03 PM GMT
Updated: Sunday, 20 January 2013 10:19 AM GMT
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Monday, 21 February 2011
Videx attack - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Bypassing
I have decided not to post the details of this particular attack for now, but can now confirm that the Videx Cyberlocks are definately vunerable to a certain bypass method that is mentioned in various dark corners of the web.

cyberlock opened

Posted by Rick the Pick at 8:50 AM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 2 April 2011 4:58 AM BST
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Thursday, 17 February 2011
Back to basics Locksmithing - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Locksmith Jobs
Had to open up an antique chest today and make a key for the lock. Very simple warded lock open in about 30 seconds with a well shaped wire.

I love this kind of work, back to basics, locksmithing at its best, working on a handmade lock that some long dead craftsman probably knocked up in his garden workshop. There looks to be a name scratched on the back but i can only make out the letter 'A'

lock restoration

restoring old locks

antique locks

antique locksmith

Posted by Rick the Pick at 1:56 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 3:34 PM GMT
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Sunday, 13 February 2011
Magnetic attacks - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Bypassing

So as of late, the latest must have tool for your locksmith toolbag is the large neodymium magnet.

Marc Tobias has just released an official document regarding the missing C-clip on certain models of the Kaba simplex combination locks. (a good summary can be found here)

Its an attack that has been known about for quite some time but was most commonly conducted via a small hole in the left hand side of the lock case to allow a pulling wire in and pull the plate manually.

With the increasing availability of high powered magnets almost anyone can perform the ultimate NDE bypass on these locks throwing this vulnerability into the spotlight and will undoubtedly cost the makers a considerable sum of money if not cripple them financially.

Locksmiths: Make sure you order the largest magnet you can afford, I tried using a 50x50x25mm magnet which was not sufficient to pull the plate on the larger unican models, but was fine for the smaller 7000 series.

Other locks worth mentioning here would be the Avocet ABS, currently being heavilly marketed throughout the UK which incorporates a magnetic pin of which is easilly overcome using a small magnet (I use a piece of rubbery fridge magnet) inserted into the keyway above the pinstack or using a magnetised pick blade.

magnetic locks

There are many good sites out there to buy high quality magnets. There are two that i will recommend, as are both cheap and ship quickly:



So, happy experimenting folks and let me know if you discover anything interesting, its a new dimension to lock manipulation and im sure theres plenty of new lock vulnerabilities that remain undiscovered.

ps: Watch your fingers!

Posted by Rick the Pick at 3:48 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 3:35 PM GMT
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Friday, 4 February 2011
Sorry its been a while - Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter

Im sorry its been a long time since i updated the blog iv been incredibly busy both working and optimising my locksmith site to get even more work.

So im routing through my photobucket account to see what iv been upto lately, i forget myself sometimes...

A few weeks ago i had a clearout of all the old locks i had knocking around, i really didnt realise that id saved up so many and have been flogging them on LP101 10 for £12 (free postage),theres still a fair few left if anyone fancies some cheap locks to pick.

I havent done much hobby picking at all lately the last lock i picked was an AZBE cylinder sent to me by Mike at Sheffield Locksmiths, which turned out to be an easy one, i had this lock open in under 60 seconds.

The lock was very sloppy and poorly manufactured making for a very simple pick with little opposition other than the tight keyway of the cylinder.

azbe lock cylinders

Going back even further i managed to pick a DOM (of some description) sent to me by Femurat of LP101. Again not much trouble at all once id worked out where the active side pin was hiding.

dom euro cylinder locks

It might be worth mentioning that iv recently purchased  a load of MT5 padlock corescomplete with reg cards and the plastic retainer which should be a direct replacement for the old classic style padlock. Contact me if you would like one ;-)

Posted by Rick the Pick at 1:31 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 3:36 PM GMT
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Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Testing the Cyberlock - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Bypassing

Im sorry it has been a while since i updated my locksmith blog.... My new home and DIY have been keeping me busy.


I recently met with a UK Videx distributor for a demonstration of the Cyberlock.

Im always wary of new technology and the claims made by their sales representitives, however im happy to report that i was quite impressed with what i was shown.


Encrypted lock technology is definately the way forward and is on offer by various companies in different forms; Kaba Locks for example should be a serious competitor offering similar management capabilities with their range of access control products.

Basically these systems now allow the real time management of access to doors/locks/whatever.

The cyberlock is the only product i have seen so far that retrofits existing hardware, making it especially appealing.

videx cyberlock

As with all new technology price is an issue and systems can be very pricey, although could be cost effective for large business customers with massive key collections and management issues.

Its certainly a system id be interested in installing and i hope to deal with the supplier in the future.

Posted by Rick the Pick at 12:46 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 3:38 PM GMT
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Tuesday, 21 September 2010
Multipoint locks flaw - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Bypassing

I still find it hard to believe that multipoint lock manufacturers still havent effectively dealt with the hole bypass problem that these locks suffer from.

It seems all that is required to unlock the doors is a small hole and a bent wire to act as the cam. (shown here on a Winkhaus lock case)

winkhaus lock case

It seems all that is required to prevent such an attack is a hardplate escutcheon around the vunerable area.

Most of the new range of euro-deadlock lock cases are now supplied with a hardplate escutcheon for this very reason and locks such as the chubb viper deadlock come with considerable protection to prevent this easy bypass.

Others such as the London Line deadlock have a non manipulatable mechanism that can only be unlocked with a tight fitting cylinder. (in fact my cam turner wont even budge them).

Posted by Rick the Pick at 2:10 PM BST
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 3:39 PM GMT
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Tuesday, 14 September 2010
Lock Buying Guide - Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter
A new addition to my locksmith wolverhampton website is the 'Buying a lock guide' aimed at customers looking for information on choosing the best lock for their door at the right price.

Feel free to take a look at the site (currently under construction) and i would be greatful for any feedback or ideas to improve what i hope will become a popular resource.

Posted by Rick the Pick at 12:58 PM BST
Updated: Sunday, 20 January 2013 10:26 AM GMT
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Friday, 10 September 2010
Random Experiments - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Lock picking

I have always struggled with the picking of the 7 pin Garrison locks so have been experimenting with various new ideas to open them.

Im pretty sure after my last post its fair to say they will be shimmable like the mt5 was.

Secondly was impressioning.
I had a crude attempt at making up an impressioning key that used a plasticine face in which to sink the pins. I made this by sinking each cut to full depth (and a bit more).

I then filled the rest of the key with soft plasticine and carved the profile back in.


The main problem would be getting the key in the lock unscathed. My method was to stick the key in the freezer for 10 minutes although in a real situation it would be better to use a gas aerosol or similar.

Anyhow once the key was in the lock i left a few minutes to thaw and began the self impressioning wiggling.

I managed to get the lock to false set on 3 attempts meaning there were pins oversetting. The problem with garrisons is there always seems to be high and low pins situated alongside one another making impressioning tough. (this is why i didnt go for foil)

Although i didn't get a 100% result here it displayed some positive results and with a few modifications i think il be able to get this to work.

and Thirdly the rake key.

Using a Garrison bump key i machined away a mm of the edge of the key so that i could insert a tension wrench in with the bump key. The idea being you can hold light tension while concentrating on the raking as oppose to trying both with one hand movement.

Rake key

Again some success. I managed yet again the false set, however it was then impossible to remove the key to pick the remaning pins by hand. So all in all not much use... just like the bump key 

 Rick | West Midlands locksmiths

Posted by Rick the Pick at 11:57 AM BST
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 3:40 PM GMT
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Sunday, 5 September 2010
Opening an MT5 - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Bypassing

I recently aquired a small box of mul-t-lock euros of various types including a few MT5 cylinders.

snapped locks

mt5 lock

Having never encountered these before i naturally spent a short time picking the lock which i found to be pretty challenging. The telescopic pins lacked the sloppy feel of the classic style lock.

In defeat i decided to open her up and see what I was up against.

Each driver pin is a self contained spring and inner pin as usual but of smaller diameter and inner driver slightly serrated on the end.

Main pins consist of inner and outer pins again of smaller diameter than the classic.

pin stacks in lock

The sixth pin in the back of the lock is a special shape with a protruding conjoined piece that  sits out of line with the other pins and is located at the rear right hand side of the keyway.

mt5 pin

The particular model of MT5 i have i assume is not the plus (+) model incorporating the sidebar as no sidebar was present and the plug does not look machined to take any finger pins.

mt5 plug

I really needed a way to defeat this lock without drilling should i ever encounter one. (Note the MT5 has the usual halfmoon hardened drillplates that sit under the plug and hardened pins so drilling could be awkward).

You may remember a few weeks back i toyed with the idea of frontal shimming. As the MT5 has such a thin plug face and no aparent protection against this attack i decided to give it a shot.

So i hacked away with a junior hacksaw right to the hardplate in the lock which was sufficient to expose the locks sheer line.

bypassing locks

...and slowly worked the shim through the lock by overlifting the pins one at a time to progress deeper with the shim, it was a little fiddly as the serration on the inner driver tends to catch but reversing up a fraction and then manipulating the center pin easilly overcomes this.

shimming a lock

 You will be able to shim the first five pins in the lock but the special 6th pin didnt seem to want to know so instead i used a tension wrench and just picked it. It is located at the back right hand side of the keyway.

Picking locks

Hey presto one open lock.

Ok, its techinically a semi-destructive method but works a treat and is something i would definately use in a real world situation as oppose to trying to pick this lock which would take considerably longer in my opinion.

Im sure the MT5+ will be a different story but i cant really comment til i get my hands on one.

Posted by Rick the Pick at 4:55 PM BST
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 3:41 PM GMT
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Friday, 3 September 2010
Sub-contracting, Is it worth the hassle? - Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter
In the UK most locksmiths have either worked for or definately heard of the main contractors; Keytek, Reactfast, Lockaid, Able Group; that supply work all over the country to self employed locksmiths like you and I and pay you a cut of the money, typically 40-60% minus your CIS deductions.

These companies charge heavilly and often encourage a huge markup on parts. As the subcontractor you are deployed to complete the work and deliver the bad news (the bill). Its often an uncomfortable position to be put as a lot of your customers tend to be poor or elderly folk, easilly mislead and manipulated over the phone.

Its rare you find a lockie that enjoys working for these companies, however as a new start up its an essential stepping stone in gaining experience and meeting new customers.

I myself knocked two contracts on the head after a few months, mainly because I wasnt tough enough to rob from the poor to give to the rich... I often found myself charging as little as possible so that the customers didnt go away and hang themselves afterwards.

Secondly, when it came to pay day getting your money was usually an ordeal. As most of you know all monies generated are to be sent to the contractor on job completion and then you are paid your share and reimbursed for your expenses at the end of the week/month.

Payment rarely arrived on time and i often found myself out of pocket the end of the month and chasing my money. Able Group and Reactfast were particularly skilled at delaying payment and i eventually resorted to threats of removing locks I had installed.

Initially Lockaid werent too sloppy on the paying up side until I began negotiating a higher percentage for work further afield. Needless to say im still awaiting payment to this day for that work....
I have also been asked to perform underhand tactics such as 'go back and see if you can charge a bit more on the parts' and to perform work without receipts. Lockaid are indeed a very shady company to the extent i cant publish some of my suspicions.....
and that was the last bit of sub-contracting i did.

My accounts are just the tip of the iceburg, iv heard stories of big lockies being shafted for thousands by non paying contractors thats seem to turn on the subbing locksmith for no apparent  reason.

It will always be a risky area to work in and undoubtedly an uncomfortable one. It all boils down to how badly you want the work, unfortunately for the newcomer its pretty much essential to get the ball rolling and to meet new customers.

Posted by Rick the Pick at 9:04 AM BST
Updated: Wednesday, 20 April 2016 8:10 AM BST
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Thursday, 2 September 2010
Finally Back Online - Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter
Aghh, moving house was far more stressful than i imagined but im now finally back online and back in business.

Had a wonderful 2 weeks in the Maldives and was suprised to see an interesting lock in use on our apartment door. (My wife was delighted to see me wasting our cameras memory snapping locks...)

Made by Fontaine, Paris is appears to be a crude tubular style lock with a big brass key. Unfortunately i didnt have my tools with me (under threat of death from my wife)

I cannot find much info on the lock to link to other than a youtube video. A translation would be appreciated from any of my overseas subscribers :-)

fontaine locks

brass tubular lock key

Posted by Rick the Pick at 11:20 AM BST
Updated: Sunday, 5 September 2010 5:39 PM BST
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Friday, 23 July 2010
Lock For Alcoholics - Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter
One final post before the internet provider cuts me off...

I stumbled across this amusing lock design whilst searching on the internet.

The alcoholic's groove ensures no drunkard ever misses the keyhole and gets home safely...

Whether its a real design or just a joke, im not sure.

Il let you decide :-D

alcoholics lock

Posted by Rick the Pick at 7:28 AM BST
Updated: Sunday, 5 September 2010 5:38 PM BST
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Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Moving - Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter
Things may be quiet here for a few weeks as im about to get married and move house all in one go. It will take a while to get unpacked and get the internet back up and running. No doubt i will have plenty more to post when im back.

Happy picking and il be back soon

union euro profile cylinder lock

Posted by Rick the Pick at 2:52 PM BST
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Monday, 19 July 2010
Lever Lock Bible - Locksmith blog
Topic: Bypassing
For those with a particular interest in lever locks click here (You will need powerpoint).

Theres not everything in there, but most of the five lever locks i ever encounter.

Note: this is something i created for my own personal use and id prefer it not to be distributed outside of this site as intended solely for hobbiest/locksmith reference.

If you have no understanding of lever locks id strongly suggest you dont risk drilling a lock!

Measurements taken from top center of keyway and for lever picking only.

Posted by Rick the Pick at 11:35 AM BST
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Saturday, 17 July 2010
Amusing Destructive Entry - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Bypassing
Heres another old video worth sharing:

This was supposed to be a plug puller demo for a local locksmith training course... but didnt end as planned.

You couldnt make this stuff up!

Posted by Rick the Pick at 9:13 AM BST
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Friday, 16 July 2010
Securefast Decoder - Locksmith Blog
Topic: Lock picking

If you deal with any particulat lever lock on a regular basis it may be worth investing some money in a decoder / make up key kit for that lock.

They are fairly exspensive but can save a lot of time when compared to picking or drilling open the locks.

These decoder kits can read the levers in the lock.

The decoder for the securefast locks reads the levers by the height which they are lifted which then corresponds to a cut depth.

Here is a demonstration by a local locksmith in Middlesbrough that encounters securefast 5 lever locks on a regular basis.

 Important things to note:

- Make sure to place the pins in the correct slots in the blank.

- When no pin is required remember to leave that part of your blank empty and not insert the next pin into that hole.

- When cutting a key from the make up key remember to reverse the cuts for the rest of the key.

Posted by Rick the Pick at 9:37 AM BST
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 3:43 PM GMT
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