Posts Tagged ‘Trial’


Not Guilty – Again

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

Last Sunday, 29 April 2018, another trial was convened to establish whether Richard III was guilty of ordering the death of his two nephews in the Tower, as well as the death of his brother George, duke of Clarence.  This was a special fundraising event produced by the Shakespeare Schools Foundation.  It was the fourth of its kind, similar trials were staged before:  Romeo for the murder of Tybalt, Macbeth, and Hamlet for the murder of Polonius.

The idea of these productions is to bring together well-known actors and young people to perform in a one night only theatrical production.  In this trial, children from three London schools acted out scenes to form evidence, supported by actors Tony Gardner (Clarence), Kae Alexander (Lady Anne),  and David Oakes (Duke of Buckingham).

Add to this legal professionals as judge (Lady Justice Hallett), as well as for the prosecution (Ian Winter QC and Jonathan Laidlaw QC) and the defence (John Kelsey-Fry QC and Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC).  The jury was the audience, with comedian Hugh Dennis as the foreman, which was to decide whether Richard was guilty or not.

You may remember that Lady Justice Hallett had also presided over the judicial review hearings in 2014.  There the question was the legality of the exhumation licence granted by the Secretary of State before remains, which eventually were identified as Richard’s, were dug up in Leicester in 2012.  The result of this earlier court case ultimately decided that Richard was reburied in Leicester Cathedral in March 2015.  As all of us, who were in the city at the time, will agree, this was a very moving and memorable event, carried out with all the respect we could have wished for.

In Sunday’s performance, the storyline was told that Richard had been arrested at Bosworth in 1485 before being killed by Henry Tudor’s forces.  In the trial, two freelance assassins gave evidence that they had been hired by a middleman to kill the nephews, but could not state definitely whether the orders originally came from the king.

Richard’s queen, Anne, traditionally portrayed as rather mild and innocent, here came across as ambitious, who shifted her allegiance to whoever was in power.  Richard explained that he didn’t need to eliminate the princes, as they had been declared illegitimate by an Act of Parliament.  Neither did he need to kill his brother, who drowned in a butt of Malmsey.

Against all these arguments brought forward by the defence, the prosecution could only argue that he was a “deformed hunchback” and “nature is repulsed by him”.  This clearly did not seem to be sufficient for the jury, which found the king ‘Not Guilty”.


Further reading:

‘Trial of Richard III on 29 April 2018’, Shakespeare Schools Foundation.  URL: [last accessed 1 May 2018]

Bowcott, O., ‘My naked villany: top judge to preside over West End trial of Richard III’, The Guardian (21 April 2018).  URL: [last accessed 1 May 2018]

Sanderson, D., ‘Richard III cleared of murder (on a hunch)’, The Times (30 April 2018).  URL: [last accessed 1 May 2018]

‘Trial of Shakespeare’s Richard III – King Not Guilty’, The Richard III Society (29 April 2018).  URL: [last accessed 1 May 2018)

Information on the Judicial Review: 

Cranmer, F., ‘Richard III reburial: judicial review application fails’, Law & Religion UK (23 May 2014).  URL: [last accessed 1 May 2018]

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