Richard III- His Last Battle…
On the 16th August 2013, Lord Justice Haddon-Cave agreed that the voice of the populace would count towards the decision as to whether or not to exhume and relocate the bones of our own son of York back to York.
This is exciting news, not just for the Plantagenet Alliance who bought the case but for legal observers. The Ministry of Justice provided the University of Leicester a license to exhume the bones of the dead King which were discovered earlier last year in a car park in Leicester.
The Plantagenet Alliance – a group of 15 people all with claims to be related to Richard III – launched a campaign to relocate the bones to York after the University positively identified the remains of the 500-year-old monarch in February 2013.
In May 2013, it submitted an application to the High Court for a review of the exhumation license. The challenge highlighted a number of points, but boiled down to one argument – that no public consultation was held about where the bones should be reinterred.
The Alliance’s call for a review of the license was granted.
The University and Ministry of Justice, the co-defendants in the High Court case, have had to decide whether to accept the judicial review, or alternatively work with the Plantagenet Alliance to appoint an independent panel of experts to look at the issue.
The panel would examine both arguments about where the remains should be reburied and decide whether the exhumation license remains valid, or whether a nationwide public consultation should be carried out.
In granting the review Lord Haddon-Cave made it clear that the petitions raised by both sides were going to have a fundamental influence upon the ultimate decision to be made.
It is very rare that legal decision making of this nature listens to the vox populi or, as in the words of Jarvis Cocker, the voice of “the common people”. Those of us who are Yorkists can take heart in this as we stole a march upon our Leicester cousins. Our petition had gathered 28,500 at the time of these Court announcements whilst Leicester’s had gathered 12,500. Unfortunately for us, our petition closed with 31,333 signatures and Leicester’s petition continued till12th October 2013, which gave them wriggle room to trounce us on the score-board.. They had plenty of time to catch up and beat us with a figure of 34,477.
The deputy registrar at the University of Leicester, Richard Taylor, said there had been no need for a show of strength until York showed them up.
“Before this review, we w
ere fairly confident with the legal process and didn’t see any point in rallying people to get behind our project,” he said.
He is joined in his dismay by the direct descendant of Richard, Michael Ibsen whose DNA was used to identify the remains. He firmly supports the Leicester campaign. “This shouldn’t be a popularit
y contest, but you’ve got to do everything you can to make sure you keep up with York’s petitions and campaigns,” he said on learning of York’s tactics.
The case has now returned to the High Court for the final verdict with blood ties, feudal arguments, petitions and all.
I will be keeping watch over this intriguing legal battle – it may even take over Richard’s last battle – the battle of Bosworth Field as the one by which we will remember the last York King.