A LEGAL hearing this week that could have determined whether the
remains of Richard III should be buried in Leicester Cathedral was
halted prematurely amid procedural confusion.
The High Court had been due to hear a challenge by the
Plantagenet Alliance, a group of 15 descendants of the Yorkist
monarch, to the original licence given by the Department of Justice
to Leicester University to search for the King's remains beneath a
car park in the city.
The Alliance is campaigning for them to be buried in York
Minster, and says that a proper consultation had not been carried
out by the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, before approving the
But when the three sides gathered at the Royal Courts of Justice
in London on Tuesday of last week, the Alliance made a late
application for Leicester City Council to be added to the
The counsel for the Alliance, Gerard Clarke QC, said that unless
the council was directly involved, there was no legal obligation
for it to comply with any judgment the court might hand down. He
said that the council, as the owner of the land where the King's
skeleton was discovered in August 2012, potentially had a claim to
the remains if the exhumation licence was annulled.
The three judges hearing the case agreed, but expressed concern
about the circumstances. Lady Justice Hallett, presiding, said that
the application was not in the interests of a speedy resolution.
Ordering an adjournment, she said: "It gives me no pleasure to
grant your application. . . We need to get on with it; but there is
clearly an issue to be determined as to whether Leicester City
Council has a role to play."
After the hearing, a spokesman for Leicester Council said: "The
council responded to a very late application by the Plantagenet
Alliance to add us as a defendant to the case. This did not allow
sufficient time for the matter to be decided today, and the court
has adjourned the proceedings into the New Year."
A spokeswoman for Leicester Cathedral said: "It's disappointing
that it's come to this. We have worked as a partnership, and
discussed everything, but we did not know about this until
Professor Mark Thompson, the Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the
University of Leicester, said: "We had hoped to have this resolved
Earlier this month, the Cathedrals Fabrics Commission for
England postponed until the New Year its consideration of plans for
the reordering of Leicester Cathedral to accommodate Richard's tomb