Richard III - University of Leicester press statement following permission judgment
Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 16 August 2013
The court has now granted permission for this matter to proceed to a full judicial review. 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. That said, the University notes that court does not suggest that the University itself has acted unlawfully by failing to conduct a consultation exercise in connection with the issue of re-interment. Indeed, the judgment makes clear that it would not have been appropriate for the University itself to have embarked on such an exercise.
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. The University will now liaise with the Ministry of Justice with a view to ascertaining how it wishes to proceed.
We have expressed our view that he should be reinterred at Leicester Cathedral for the reasons outlined below.
• The plan for reinterment in Leicester Cathedral was clearly stated and unambiguous at the start of the project and announced in a statement on Friday 24 August 2012. This was before the dig started.
• Reinterment on the nearest consecrated ground is in keeping with good archaeological practice. Richard has lain in the shadow of St Martin’s Cathedral, Leicester, for over 500 years.
• The landowner (Leicester City Council) gave permission for the excavation of the Greyfriars site on this basis. Had the plan been to reinter Richard other than in Leicester, permission would not have been granted for the search.
Statistically, it is expected there will be at least a million relatives of Richard III alive today. We have received messages of support from some including Michael Ibsen, whose DNA, together with that of another direct descendant of Richard’s sister, was key to identifying the remains found at Greyfriars in Leicester. Michael has commented: “I have followed the Richard III project from the outset and was involved in the University of Leicester’s analysis of the DNA evidence. I support reinterment in Leicester Cathedral as entirely fitting and appropriate.”
- The Dig for Richard III was led by the University of Leicester, working with Leicester City Council and in association with the Richard III Society. The originator of the Search project was Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society.
- Dr John Ashdown-Hill was instrumental tracking down the descendants of Richard's sister Anne of York, Joy Ibsen and her son Michael Ibsen, whose DNA, along with that of a second individual traced by Leicester academic Kevin Schϋrer, was critical to identifying the remains found at Greyfriars in Leicester.
- You can learn more about how many relatives of Richard III could be alive today in this BBC radio programme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01s8vvv