Steve Coogan sued for libel over The Lost King

The Lost King
Share this Article:

Steve Coogan and his production company, along with Pathé Productions, are being sued for libel over their film The Lost King. More details below. 

Steve Coogan starred in, produced and wrote the 2022 feature film The Lost King, in which Sally Hawkins played Philippa Langley, an historian searching for the remains of King Richard III’s remains under a car park. 

Richard Taylor, the deputy registrar of the University of Leicester at the time of the film’s setting in 2012, has now sued Coogan, his production company Baby Cow and Pathé Productions for libel, claiming that The Lost King's portrayal of him – as played by actor Lee Ingleby – made him look “devious” according to the BBC.

Directed by Stephen Frears, the film was met with mildly positive reviews, with much of the praise directed at Sally Hawkins’ performance. The University of Leicester released a statement after the film’s UK premiere, stating that Langley was “not sidelined” as the drama suggested. Langley then published her own rebuttal of this.

In October 2022, Mr Taylor said he was “likely” to seek legal action against the production. “The film is littered with inaccuracies,” he told the BBC at the time.

As reported by the BBC, William Bennett KC told the High Court on Thursday (29th February) that his client, Mr Taylor, was wrongfully portrayed as “dismissive, patronising and misogynistic” towards Langley. 

Read more: The Lost King review | The search for Richard III finds something else instead

A written submission also notes that: “Ms Langley is portrayed as the gutsy underdog heroine struggling against opposition and the claimant as the arrogant villain.

“He not only takes steps to make sure that people do not know about her role but takes the credit, which was rightfully hers, for himself and the university.”

Coogan did not attend the hearing, but Andrew Caldecott KC, who is representing Coogan, argued that “It is a feature film, not a documentary.

“It would be clear to the ordinary reasonable viewer that the film is not a documentary, it is a dramatisation of events.

“The concept of fictional films based on real events is not a new one.”

Mr Caldecott also argued that the film does not portray Mr Taylor as misogynistic or sexist because the character’s “concern is about Ms Langley’s amateur status and lack of historical expertise, and not her gender”.

Mr Taylor’s barrister also argued that the character was portrayed “mocking” King Richard III’s disability, which Mr Caldecott refutes. A judge is expected to deliver a verdict on the case at an unspecified date. 

Share this Article:

More like this