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Richard III: Leicester reburial to be judicially reviewed tomorrow

A group of Richard III’s distant relatives campaigning to see the former king reburied in York will tomorrow take their fight to the High Court in London.

Published: November 25, 2013 at 12:50 pm
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A group of Richard III’s distant relatives campaigning to see the former king reburied in York will tomorrow take their fight to the High Court in London.


The Plantagenet Alliance Limited, made up of 15 of the king’s distant relatives, will attend a judicial review examining the decisions authorising the exhuming and reinterring of the monarch’s remains in Leicester.

Richard's skeleton was discovered underneath a Leicester council car park last September, 527 years after he was killed at the battle of Bosworth. The remains were in February identified as those of the last Plantagenet king.

As an organisation closely involved in the discovery, the University of Leicester holds a Ministry of Justice ‘section 25 licence’ that allows it to decide where the remains are reinterred. The university decided upon Leicester Cathedral.

Copyright: University of Leicester

Tomorrow’s hearing, which will involve two judges and is expected to last a day, will scrutinise the processes surrounding the Ministry of Justice’s decision to grant a licence to the University of Leicester.

The Plantagenet Alliance hopes to see the ‘section 25 licence’ quashed.

The alliance’s lawyers will argue, among other things, that the secretary of state failed to consult sufficiently or take into account the wishes of the king’s distant relatives and the monarch’s own preferences – if they can be determined – when issuing the licence.

They will also maintain that such a failure was unlawful and constitutes a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, covering the right to respect for private and family life.

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave – the judge who in August gave permission for a judicial review to take place – advised the parties to put the matter to an independent expert panel for adjudication instead. The hearing is, however, going ahead.

Matthew Howarth, the partner and judicial review expert at Yorkshire law firm Gordons, representing the alliance, said: “Why the big guns ranged against us continue to fight this case, against a claimant with no resources, incurring substantial legal costs and court time, and refuse to accept the eminently more sensible option of putting the matter to an expert panel, as the judge suggested, is beyond us.

“But, given this is their preference, we’ll now go to the hearing and put the best case possible, with every hope of the licence being overturned. If that happens, the whole question of the king’s final resting place goes up in the air again and there would be every chance this could still be York.”

The Plantagenet Alliance has been granted a protective costs order, meaning it will not have to pay costs to the justice secretary or university if it loses the case. However, if the alliance wins, its opponents will have to pay its costs as well as their own.

The Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said in September he would “vigorously defend” the decision to bury the remains of Richard III in Leicester.

Richard Van Allen of the Richard III Society in August told historyextra that the dispute about where the remains should be reinterred is becoming “undignified”.

Judgment following Tuesday’s hearing is expected to be reserved, and delivered in a few weeks’ time.

To read more about Plantagenet genealogy, click here.


UPDATE: The judicial review has been adjourned. To find out more, click here.


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