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Court battle for Richard's remains


A court will hear arguments today about where Richard III should be reburied.

A court will hear arguments today about where Richard III should be reburied.

A court will hear arguments today about where Richard III should be reburied.

A High Court battle royal begins today over where the remains of King Richard III should be reburied.

Distant relatives of the monarch have formed an alliance and brought the action in what has been described as "the (legal) Wars of the Roses part 2".

Richard's battle-scarred bones were discovered under a council car park in Leicester and the controversial plan is for them to be re-interred at the city's cathedral.

The Queen has spoken of her shock at learning of the resting place of her 14th great-grand uncle.

Now the Plantagenet Alliance Ltd, formed by the distant relatives, are fighting for the remains to be buried at York Minster, claiming it was the king's wish.

They are bringing judicial review proceedings against Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, the University of Leicester and Leicester City Council.

Richard was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 - ending the Wars of the Roses and the Plantagenet dynasty - and his body was taken to Leicester by supporters of the victorious Henry VII and buried in Greyfriars church, now the site of the council car park.

At the heart of the case is a Ministry of Justice decision to grant a "section 25 licence" under the Burial Act giving archaeologists from the university licence to excavate, and the university permission to decide where to re-bury the bones, which were exhumed some 19 months ago.

The university later announced it intended the reburial would take place in Leicester Cathedral.

The Plantagenet Alliance argues the Ministry of Justice failed to consult widely enough, or take into account the wishes of the king's descendants, or the wishes of the long dead king himself, if they can still be determined.

Matthew Howarth, the partner and judicial review expert at Yorkshire law firm Gordons representing the alliance, said: "Quite why our opponents have declined the obviously sensible option of independent adjudication, preferring to incur substantial legal costs - including for the taxpayer - and tie up considerable court time, is inexplicable.

"Although many people are astonished we've got this far, we'll go to the hearing with every confidence in our position, intending to state our case clearly and believing there's every chance the licence will be quashed.

"If that happens, the odds about the king eventually being laid to rest in York will shorten dramatically."