A lawsuit has been filed against Steve Coogan and the creators of The Lost King by an academic for their depiction of him in the movie.

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A previous deputy registrar at the University of Leicester is taking legal action against the creators of the upcoming film The Lost King, alleging that he was portrayed as being dismissive, condescending, and sexist.

Lee Ingleby portrayed Richard Taylor in the movie, which focuses on the unearthing of the remains of Richard III in a parking lot in Leicester in 2012, over 500 years after his passing. During a court session in London on Thursday, Taylor’s lawyer, William Bennett KC, argued that his client was depicted as “sly”, “weasel-like”, and a “corporate accountant”.

In the movie, Taylor, who departed from the university in 2013, is depicted as having a hostile attitude towards Philippa Langley, an amateur historian portrayed by Sally Hawkins. Langley leads the excavation effort, but is overlooked by the academic society who tries to claim recognition for the found artefacts.

Langley’s spouse is portrayed by Steve Coogan, who co-crafted the screenplay alongside Jeff Pope. The movie was helmed by Stephen Frears, who worked with Coogan and Pope on the 2013 film “Philomena.” Taylor is taking legal action against the creators of the film, as well as production company Baby Cow and distributors Pathe.

Bennett noted in written arguments that the film holds a theme of good versus bad, which is important to consider.

The character of Ms Langley is depicted as a brave protagonist fighting against difficult challenges, while the claimant is portrayed as a conceited antagonist.

“He not only ensures that her role remains unknown, but also claims credit for himself and the university, which rightfully belongs to her.”

Bennett stated that the film is focused on its plot and each action and dialogue carries meaning. He also remarked that Taylor’s depiction of Richard III could be perceived as making fun of his disability and connecting physical abnormalities with evil or ethical shortcomings.

After the film was released, the University of Leicester released a statement disputing various elements of the film, such as Taylor’s depiction, and stating that it did not accurately reflect the actual events during this time. Their official records show that Taylor was a cooperative, collaborative, fair, and professional colleague throughout the project.

In an October 2022 interview with the BBC, Taylor expressed that he is often depicted as a bullying and manipulative individual, which is problematic. However, he also believes that accusations of sexism and making fun of Richard III’s disabilities go beyond criticism and cross into defamation.

According to written statements from Andrew Caldecott KC, who represents Baby Cow and Pathe, the production is a feature film and not a documentary. It should be evident to the average viewer that the movie is a dramatization of actual events. The idea of creating fictional films based on real events is not a novel concept.

According to Caldecott, the movie claims to be “based on a true story.” However, he also noted, “It is not a literal depiction of precise dialogue … and should be interpreted as Ms Langley’s interpretation.”

He refuted the portrayal of Taylor as a misogynist in the film, stating that his main concern is with Ms. Langley’s amateur status and lack of historical expertise, not her gender.

Caldecott stated: “Although the movie has a strong criticism of both Mr. Taylor and the university for ignoring Ms. Langley during the excavation and not properly acknowledging her contributions after the body was found, it is evident that his main goal is to capitalize on the discovery for the university’s financial gain.”

It is not possible to reword.

Caldecott noted that Taylor did not depict Richard III’s disability in a mocking manner and was not making fun of disabled individuals as a whole.

When the movie was released, the creators addressed the concerns raised by the University of Leicester and Taylor by stating: “The university’s version of the events has been well-documented for the past decade. Based on the research conducted by the film-makers, Philippa’s remembrance of the events differs greatly.”

By June 2023, the university seemed to have downplayed their assertions regarding their role in the discovery. In a statement about the university’s expansion, Pro-Vice Chancellor Philip Baker stated, “We played a role in the successful unearthing, identification, and reinterment of Richard III and are currently leading the Dickens Code project to decode the author’s shorthand texts.”

The search for the remains of Richard III was said to have been led by the University. Taylor currently holds the position of chief operating officer at Loughborough University. His bio on the university’s website claims that he played a key role in the successful discovery of King Richard III’s remains.

Source: theguardian.com

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