Richard III remains: Judicial review hearing starts

Richard III's skeleton Archaeologists suggested Richard III's body was buried in a hastily cut grave and with his hands tied

Distant relatives of Richard III have told a court they should have a say in where the king's resting place is.

The Plantagenet Alliance told the first day of a judicial review there should have been a public consultation on where to reinter the king.

They are challenging a decision to have the remains placed in Leicester Cathedral and want them to go to York.

The High Court will decide if Leicester University's licence stands or if a consultation should be held.

A University of Leicester team found the skeleton beneath a Leicester car park in September 2012 and they were confirmed as belonging to the notorious monarch in February 2013.

The Ministry of Justice, Leicester University and Leicester City Council insist the remains have been dealt with in line with standard archaeological practice.

Timetable of the row

Reenactors
  • 22 August 1485: King Richard III is killed at the Battle of Bosworth
  • September 2012: University of Leicester applies for an exhumation licence. The same month, two bodies are excavated
  • 12 September 2012: Experts announce one of the bodies could be Richard but further tests are needed
  • 4 February 2013: The university declares it is the body of the former king and begins arrangements for the reinterment in the cathedral
  • 3 May 2013: Plantagenet Alliance issues judicial review proceedings
  • August 2013: Court grants the right for the review
  • 27 November 2013: Judicial review is adjourned when Leicester City Council agrees to a public consultation. It later changes its mind
  • 13 March 2014: Two-day hearing for judicial review at the High Court in London

But the alliance argued the Ministry of Justice failed to consult widely enough, or take into account the wishes of the king's descendants, or the wishes of Richard himself, if they could still be determined.

Their counsel, Gerard Clarke, told the court: "Our lead point is the secretary of state's decision is flawed because he did not sufficiently inform himself of the relevant factors before he made that decision."

Mr Clarke added his clients would be satisfied with a wide-ranging public consultation exercise on the king's final resting place, including views from the Crown, English Heritage, relevant churches, other public bodies "and those who claim a family relationship with the late king".

Government QC James Eadie told the court Mr Grayling was "under no statutory or common law duty to consult".

'Casualty of war'

Proceedings were interrupted by Philippa Langley, member of the Richard III Society and a driving force behind the hunt for the grave.

From her seat at the back of the public gallery, she said: "I'm sorry, I have to say something... So much of the information here is being misrepresented."

Ms Langley was asked to pass the judges a note outlining her objections.

Outside court she expressed her dismay the remains were being treated like an "archaeological specimen" and said if the judges back the licence she would begin her own action.

"The whole ethos of this project was that it wasn't an archaeological dig, it wasn't a trophy hunt, it was about burying someone who was a casualty of war," she said.

"It was a reburial project from the get go."

She added: "If the court decides that full consultation is going to take place then we would be happy with that, but if not, then I'm afraid we are going to be in court."

The hearing is expected to last two days.

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