Battle for Richard III reburial site on hold as high court case is adjourned

Judicial review hearing delay as Leicester council becomes party to case involving Plantagenet Alliance on resting place for bones

Richard III, who was killed at Bosworth in 1485. The dispute between Leicester and York means his new burial site may not be decided by next August. Photograph: Leicester cathedral/EPA

Richard III’s remains may be in search of a home for a while longer after a high court case was adjourned amid anger and disappointment in London.

Leicester city council’s claim that it has a key role in deciding where the last Plantagenet king of England should be interred or buried could mean that the hopes of Leicester University and the city’s cathedral for placing his skeleton in a new tomb by next August will be dashed.

The council was an interested party in the proceedings, and on Tuesday lawyers for the local authority said it was prepared to launch its own consultation.

Lawyers for the Plantagenet Alliance, members of which claim to be descendants of the king, successfully argued that the authority should be a third defendant in the case they are conducting against the Ministry of Justice and the city’s university over the way they have handled the legal process that facilitated the dig for Richard’s body and then the decision on its reburial.


No new hearing will be possible before the new year. The alliance argues that the ministry, which granted an exhumation licence, and Leicester University, did not consult widely on the issue of where the king should be laid to rest; York and other places could be options, they say.

The failure to take into account relatives’ wishes or the king’s “own preferences” had breached their human rights, the alliance claimed.

The university and cathedral authorities said after the judicial review hearing had broken up that they were disappointed at the delays.

The authorities, which said they had followed due legal process, would not be drawn on whether they would still consider leaving the decision on Richard’s remains to an independent panel of experts .

The university may yet face a decision on whether it will have to apply for an extension of the exhumation licence. Any consideration of changes to the cathedral to accommodate the body of the king are already on hold because of the case.

Matthew Howarth, of the Yorkshire law firm Gordons, which is representing the alliance, said the council’s actions meant there would inevitably be delays. “We are not going to finish by August next year.”




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