Richard III relatives will have legal costs of judicial review protected
The justice secretary, , has lost his high court attempt to prevent distant relatives of Richard III from having their costs protected if they lose their legal battle over where the monarch's remains should be reburied.
Lawyers for Grayling argued that taxpayers should not have to foot the bill. But a judge ruled on Friday that the relatives, who have formed the Plantagenet Alliance Ltd to fight for the remains to be buried at York Minster, are entitled to a protective costs order (PCO).
Mr Justice Haddon-Cave ruled that he was satisfied that "it was, and is, appropriate, to grant a full PCO".
The alliance is seeking a high court judicial review and accusing the justice secretary of failing to consult properly before giving archaeologists from the University of licence to excavate and to decide where the bones should be reburied.
It is understood that loss of the PCO could have jeopardised the judicial review application.
Richard's bones were discovered under a council car park in Leicester last year and the plan is for them to be reinterred at the city's cathedral.
But the relatives claim it was the king's wish to be buried at York and have launched what the judge has described as "Wars of the Roses Part II".
The judge observed: "It seems that this case will be hard fought, despite entreaties, with no quarter being given on either side."
Tom Weisselberg, representing Grayling, had urged the judge to reconsider his decision to grant the Plantagenet Alliance a PCO for the pending court proceedings.
Weisselberg said: "It is wrong in principle that the taxpayer should be required to bear the risk of the entire cost of this litigation – that is the effect of the PCO your lordship has granted."
Ruling in favour of the alliance, the judge said the justice secretary had argued that there was no "public interest" in the outcome of the judicial review – merely "a parochial interest by York sympathisers driving the claim".
According to the judge, Grayling had submitted that the interests of the public about where the remains of the former king should be interred were "entirely served by a public debate on the matter", and it was sufficient that the issues regarding Richard III's reburial were "ventilated" in the newspapers.
Disagreeing, the judge said: "In my judgment, this argument is flawed and heretical.
"It ignores the fundamental need for the court to ensure that the due processes of the common law are adhered to.
"It suggests that amorphous 'public debate' in the press or on the web is somehow a substitute for the adherence by public bodies to the duty at common law properly to consult interested parties.
"It also ignores the fact that the licensee (the University of Leicester) is not a disinterested party and has a personal interest in retaining possession and control of the remains whatever views might be expressed in such a public debate."
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.
His remains were found under the car park owned by Leicester city council on the former site of the church.
Under the terms of the licence to dig up the remains granted by the justice secretary, the university decided that Richard should be re-interred at Leicester Cathedral.
The alliance argues that the minister failed to comply with a duty in law to consult "relevant interests", including the king's descendants, as to how and where his remains should be reburied.