Judge: Man Was Defamed in Film About Finding King's Body

University official filed lawsuit over The Lost King
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2024 4:10 PM CDT

A former university official who complained that he was depicted as an "arrogant villain" in a movie about the discovery of King Richard III's remains under a parking lot has scored a win in his defamation lawsuit. A British judge ruled Friday that the portrayal of former University of Leicester registrar Richard Taylor in The Lost King was defamatory, meaning that his lawsuit can proceed to a full trial, the Guardian reports.

  • The 2022 movie stars Sally Hawkins as amateur historian Philippa Langley, who led the effort to find the king's remains. Taylor is suing co-writer Steve Coogan, production company Baby Cow, and distributors Pathe. Coogan plays Langley's husband.

  • According to Taylor's lawsuit, the movie showed him behaving in an "abominable way" toward Langley. The suit said it depicted him trying to take credit for himself and the university for Langley's discovery.
  • Judge Lewis agreed that the movie portrayed Taylor as "smug, unduly dismissive, and patronizing," the Independent reports. Taylor "was portrayed throughout the film in a negative light," the judge wrote. "At no point was he shown in a way that could be described as positive, or even neutral. Whilst an individual scene may not in itself cross the threshold of seriousness, taken together the film makes a powerful comment about the claimant and the way he conducted himself when undertaking a senior professional role for a university."
  • Contrary to other claims in the lawsuit, however, the judge said a "reasonable viewer" would not have "come away from the film thinking that it was saying that the claimant was a misogynist or sexist."
  • Defense lawyers argued against 'the claimant's 'saint and sinner' narrative," according to the ruling. The film, they argued, "represents Ms Langley as a flawed and complex character who is not easy to deal with, being unwell, under serious stress, prone to delusional episodes and bordering on the obsessive."
  • Deadline reports that a Baby Cow spokesperson said: "We are proud to have represented Philippa Langley's voice in The Lost King and we are pleased that the judge agrees that the film doesn't portray Richard Taylor as misogynistic, or sexist, or disablist, as he claimed. We believe we will succeed in defending The Lost King and Baby Cow's position.:
(More Steve Coogan stories.)

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