Police in Wiltshire were forced to apologise yesterday after requesting that a newsagent handed over details of any customers that had bought Charlie Hebdo.

After the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, a special edition of the satirical magazine was released, giving independent retailers a unique opportunity to stock the product. But Wiltshire police confirmed that one of their officers had visited one Corsham newsagent requesting the names of customers buying the product.

The matter came to light when the Guardian newspaper received a letter from 77-year-old customer, Anne Keat, who said: “I asked my helpful newsagents to obtain a copy of the edition of Charlie Hebdo issued after the dreadful massacre in Paris, if indeed a copy was ever available in north Wiltshire.”

But two days later the local police force visited the newsagent requesting the details.

Wiltshire police said they had undertaken their own assessment of community tensions following the Paris attack.

Hundreds of British customers queued to buy one of the five million special edition copies of Charlie Hebdo last month.