Aug 16 2013
A judge has expressed his hope that a dispute over where the remains of King Richard III should be reburied will be settled without the need for an "unseemly, undignified and unedifying" legal tussle.
Although Mr Justice Haddon-Cave gave a group of the monarch's relatives the go-ahead to bring High Court proceedings in what he described as an "unprecedented" case, he urged the parties to "avoid embarking on the (legal) Wars of the Roses Part 2".
Richard's remains were discovered buried under a council car park in Leicester last year and the plan is for them to be re-interred at the city's cathedral. But relatives who have formed the Plantagenet Alliance want the remains buried at York Minster, claiming it was the King's wish.
He 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. His remains were found under the car park owned by Leicester City Council on the former site of the church.
Archaeologists from the University of Leicester were given permission to excavate and to decide where the bones should be reburied by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Under the terms of a licence to dig up the remains, the university has decided that Richard should be re-interred at Leicester Cathedral.
Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, sitting in London, said Richard III had remained a historical figure of significance and controversy and the discovery of his remains was the result of "inspired, determined and meticulous work" by members of the Richard III Society, the University of Leicester Archaeological Services, and Leicester City Council.
He gave the Plantagenet Alliance permission to bring judicial review proceedings against the Justice Secretary and the University of Leicester, with a full hearing to resolve the case expected later in the year. In his written judgment, he commented: "It is ironic that the Wars of the Roses appear to be returning whence they started - the Temple. Legend has it that John Beaufort and Richard Plantagenet picked the symbolic red and white roses in Inner and Middle Temple gardens...
"I would, however, urge the parties to avoid embarking on the (legal) Wars of the Roses Part 2. 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. The discovery of Richard III's remains engages interests beyond those of the immediate parties, and touches on sovereign, state and church.
"For these reasons, 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, who can consult and receive representations from all interested parties and make suitable recommendations with reasonable speed."
The University of Leicester said in a statement: "The university is currently digesting the content of the judgment, which raises a number of important and complex issues. The university continues to take the view that the claim is without merit and that this is the conclusion which the court is likely to reach once it has had the benefit of hearing detailed evidence and legal argument during the course of the judicial review."