The battle over where the remains of King Richard III should be laid to rest has ended, with judges postponing their final decision until they have considered the evidence further.
Relatives of the former monarch who make up the Plantagenet Alliance have argued that there should have been a national public consultation over where he would be reinterred.
Their counsel, Gerard Clarke, told the court that the issue was important as Richard III was the last English king to die in battle - and so should not be treated as just "any old bones".
But counsel for the government, James Eadie, said there was "no statutory or common law duty to consult".
Lady Justice Hallett, sitting with Mr Justice Ouseley and Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, said the court would take time to consider its judgment and told the parties: "We shall let you know our decision as soon as possible."
A Leicester City Council representative has told the High Court that the council has no commonlaw duty to consult about where to reinter the remains of Richard III.
He had added the council was "more than happy" with the university's burial plans, and said it was time to let his remains be reburied in what he called "the beautiful surroundings of Leicester Cathedral".
The Plantagenet Alliance Ltd, formed by the distant relatives of King Richard III, are fighting for the late monarch's remains to be buried at York Minster, claiming it was the king's wish.
They are bringing judicial review proceedings against Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, the University of Leicester - which intends to bury the remains at Leicester Cathedral - and Leicester City Council.
Their solicitor, Matthew Howarth, from law firm Gordons, said:
Quite why our opponents have declined the obviously sensible option of independent adjudication, preferring to incur substantial legal costs - including for the taxpayer - and tie up considerable court time, is inexplicable.
Although many people are astonished we've got this far, we'll go to the hearing with every confidence in our position, intending to state our case clearly and believing there's every chance the licence will be quashed.
If that happens, the odds about the king eventually being laid to rest in York will shorten dramatically.
At the heart of the case is a Ministry of Justice decision to grant a "section 25 licence" under the Burial Act giving archaeologists from the university licence to excavate, and the university permission to decide where to re-bury the bones, which were exhumed in the city 19 months ago.
A High Court battle over the final resting place for the remains of King Richard III begins today.
After the king's remains were discovered buried under a council car park in Leicester in 2012 they were expected to be re-interred at the city's cathedral.
However, distant relatives of the monarch formed an alliance and brought the action in what has been described as "the (legal) Wars of the Roses part 2".
Mayor of Leicester Sir Peter Soulsby has welcomed the judicial review into the final resting place of King Richard III.
He says he's confident the outcome will be a 'sensible one', as the monarch's skeleton has been buried in the city for more than 500 years after his death at the Battle of Bosworth in Leicestershire.
Following the decision to allow a judicial review into the reburying of Richard III's remains at Leicester Cathedral, Leicestershire County Council issued the following statement.
– Richard Blunt, Leicestershire County Council's cabinet member for heritage, leisure and arts
"Richard III died at the battle of Bosworth and was taken to Leicester to be buried. These are compelling reasons why his remains should be interred at Leicester Cathedral. "I hope that the court comes, swiftly, to the same conclusion, so that the county and city councils and the Cathedral can progress their plans to commemorate his life, next year."
The University of Leicester has issued the following list of reasons why it believes King Richard III should be reinterred at Leicester Cathedral.
- 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.
The University of Leicester has issued the following statement after the successful appeal by campaigners fighting to get Richard III's remains reinterred in York instead of Leicester.
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.
High Court judge, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, has urged campaigners to avoid War of the Roses Part 2, after he gave a group of relatives of King Richard III permission to bring High Court proceedings to challenge Leicester reburial plans for the last Plantagenet king.
"t 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.
– Mr Justice Haddon-Cave
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.