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Judicial review to be held on Richard burial

23 August 2013

VHH

Burial plans: a proposed design for a raised tomb for Richard III, unveiled last month. Leicester Cathedral plans to spend about £1 million on the interment, including alterations to the building, preparations for the event, and the ceremony itself

Burial plans: a proposed design for a raised tomb for Richard III, unveiled last month. Leicester Cathedral plans to spend about £1 million on the i...

A HIGH COURT judge has granted distant relatives of Richard III permission for a judicial review of the decision on where he should be buried.

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave made an order on Thursday of last week, after the Plantagenet Alliance - a group that includes 15 relatives of Richard III - launched a legal challenge to the Ministry of Justice's decision to allow the King's remains to be buried in Leicester Cathedral (News, 19 July).

The judge said that the Secretary of State for Justice had "failed to carry out any, or any proper consultation regarding the re-internment of Richard III's remains" before issuing an exhumation licence to the University of Leicester in September of last year ( News, 14 September 2012). The Secretary of State had failed to revisit the decision to grant the licence in February, after it was confirmed that the remains were those of Richard III, and when there was "growing concern . . . as to where they should be reburied".

The judge went on: "The University of Leicester, as a responsible public body, should not have begun making arrangements for a re-interment of the remains of Richard III at Leicester Cathedral, prior to an appropriate consultation being carried out. . . It is ironic that the Wars of the Roses appear to be returning whence they started. . . I would . . . urge the parties to avoid embarking on the (legal) Wars of the Roses Part Two. In my view, it would be unseemly, undignified, and unedifying to have a legal tussle over these royal remains. This would not be appropriate, or in the country's interests. . .

"I would strongly recommend that parties immediately consider referring the fundamental question - as to where and how Richard III is reburied - to an independent advisory panel made up of suitable experts and Privy Councillors."

A statement from Leicester Cathedral, issued on Tuesday, said: "We are an Interested Party in this process, and we look forward to co-operating with all the parties. We are also considering our response to the alternative ideas named by the judge in his consideration."

The Dean of Leicester, the Very Revd David Monteith, said: "Richard has lain in Leicester, just across the road, in the shadow of our cathedral, for the past 500 years. So we believe that King Richard's mortal remains should be reinterred here . . . in a timely manner."

Leicester University said in a statement last Friday that it believed that the Plantagenet Alliance's claim was "without merit, and that this is the conclusion which the court is likely to reach", once it had heard "detailed evidence".

It continued: "The university maintains that it is entirely proper and fitting that the remains of Richard III, Duke of Gloucester, be buried in the magnificent holy setting of Leicester Cathedral, near where his remains had lain for centuries, and where they were finally discovered as a result of what the court described as 'the inspired, determined and meticulous work' of the university and members of the Richard III Society."

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