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Campaign To Bury King Richard III In York Goes To High Court

Richard III 3, copyright The Richard III Society

8:13am 26th November 2013

The campaign to have Richard the Third re-buried in York goes to the High Court today.

A review will take place into the decision to allow him to be re-buried in Leicester where he was found under a car park in 2012.

Specifically, the hearing will examine processes surrounding the Ministry of Justice’s decision to grant a “section 25 licence” to the University of Leicester. This authorised that institution to remove the king’s remains from beneath a council car park in the city during the autumn of 2012 and reinter them. The university subsequently announced it intended the reburial would take place in Leicester Cathedral. 

A group of the king’s collateral descendants, known as Plantagenet Alliance Limited, which wants his final resting place to be York, has brought today's case in an effort to have the “section 25 licence” quashed.

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

Tuesday’s full hearing is going ahead despite Mr Justice Haddon-Cave - the judge who gave permission for it to take place at a High Court hearing in August - suggesting the parties put the matter to an independent expert panel for adjudication instead. The ministry and university refused to do this, despite the Plantagenet Alliance expressing a willingness to have the issue decided that way.

Matthew Howarth, the partner and judicial review expert at Yorkshire law firm Gordons representing the alliance, said: “The fact we’ve got this far has confounded many people, given that my client is a not-for-profit entity and my firm has undertaken a considerable amount of work for it on a pro-bono basis. However, the judiciary has recognised, despite the clear inequality of arms here, that my client’s case ‘self-evidently raises matters of general public importance’ and therefore deserves to be heard.

“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.”

At August’s High Court hearing, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave also granted the Plantagenet Alliance a protective costs order, meaning it would not have to pay costs to the justice secretary or university if it lost the case. However, if the alliance won, its opponents would have to pay its costs as well as their own.   

At a further hearing last month, the same judge then rejected attempts by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to: prevent the alliance securing the protective costs order; force it to make a payment in security for any costs ultimately awarded against it; and vary a disclosure order, obliging the Ministry of Justice to provide certain information to the alliance before next week’s hearing.

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

More details of the campaign to have King Richard III’s remains buried in York can be found at http://kingrichardcampaign.org.uk/         

A decision on the process to have the king buried in Leicester is expected in three to four weeks.

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