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Steve Coogan and his companies have filed a lawsuit against the film Richard III

Steve Coogan and his companies have filed a lawsuit against the film Richard III

  • Written by Dan Martin & PA Media
  • BBC News, East Midlands

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Steve Coogan stars opposite Sally Hawkins in The Lost King

Steve Coogan is being sued for defamation by a university official who claims he was made to appear “disingenuous” and “weasel-like” in a film about the discovery of Richard III's remains.

Richard Taylor has launched legal action against the comedian, who was a writer and producer of The Lost King.

Mr Taylor said he was unhappy with the way his character was portrayed.

The film tells the story of the search for Queen Plantagenet under Leicester City Hall car park in 2012.

It focused on the role of historian Philippa Langley in the research, which involved archaeologists from the University of Leicester.

Mr Taylor was Deputy Registrar of the University of Leicester at the time, and actor Lee Ingleby later played a role in the film.

A High Court hearing on Thursday was told that Taylor would launch legal action against Mr Coogan, his production company Baby Cow and Pathé Productions.

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Richard Taylor's lawyer said the film made him appear “sympathetic and misogynistic”.

William Bennett KC said his client Mr Taylor was presented as “dismissive, condescending and misogynistic” towards Ms Langley.

In written submissions, the lawyer said: “The relevant context is the ‘good versus bad’ narrative that runs through the film.

“Ms. Langley is portrayed as the plucky, underdog heroine who struggles against opposition and the Pretender as the arrogant villain.

“Not only does he take steps to make sure people don't know about her role, but he takes the credit, which was rightfully hers, for himself and the university.”

Image source, The lost king

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The filmmakers are defending the legal action brought by Mr. Taylor

Bennett told the court that Taylor, who is now chief operating officer at Loughborough University, also appeared as a “weasel-like deceitful person” and “someone suitable for the bean counter”.

The lawyer later said that Taylor was portrayed as “mocking” Richard III's disability and “associating physical deformity with evil or moral failure.”

Bennett added: “It's a straightforward, straightforward film, where everything said and done matters.”

Mr Coogan, who did not attend the hearing, and the two production companies are defending the defamation claim.

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Sally Hawkins played Philippa Langley in the film

“It is a feature film, not a documentary,” Alan Partridge and Company star actor Andrew Caldecott said in written memoirs.

“It will be clear to the average reasonable viewer that the film is not a documentary, but rather a dramatization of events.

“The concept of fictional films based on true events is not new.”

Caldecott said the film was “based on a true story,” adding: “It is not a literal depiction of specific words and would be understood as expressing Ms. Langley's perception.”

The lawyer denied that Taylor was sexist or misogynistic, adding that his “concern related to Ms. Langley’s amateur status and lack of historical experience, not her gender.”

He added: “While the film strongly criticizes Mr. Taylor and the university for marginalizing Ms. Langley during the excavation and after the discovery of the body and not giving her adequate credit, its clear motive is to exploit the discovery to advance the university's efforts.” Commercial interests.

“No reasonable viewer could conclude that he was motivated by sexism or misogyny.”

Caldecott also said that Taylor was not portrayed as making fun of Richard III's disability, “and certainly not making fun of people with disabilities in general”.

Judge Jaron Lewis will rule on the preliminary issues in the lawsuit at a later date.

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