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Steve Coogan, Baby Cow, Pathe to face trial for “defamatory” portrayal of character in ‘The Lost King’

Source: Warner Bros / Pathe

‘The Lost King’

A UK high court judge ruled the portrayal of a real-life character in Stephen Frears’ 2022 film The Lost King is defamatory at a preliminary hearing on Friday (June 14).

Steve Coogan, his production company Baby Cow and the film’s producer and distributor Pathe Productions are being sued by former University of Leicester employee Richard Taylor, who is played by Lee Ingleby in the film.

Coogan produced and co-wrote the script alongside Jeff Pope, and also starred in the film. The Lost King tells the story of how amateur historian Philippa Langley (played by Sally Hawkins) discovered the remains of Richard III in a Leicester car park whilst facing skepticism from the academic establishment.

Taylor, who used to work for the University of Leicester, argued the film portrayed him as an “arrogant villain” who tried to deny Langley credit for the discovery of Richard’s remains for his own professional benefit, and that he acted in a “dismissive, patronising and misogynistic way towards Ms Langley”.

The defendants argued the film portrayed Langley as a complex character who was not easy to deal with and that the film’s criticism of Taylor’s conduct was only in the context of “the particular situation shown”.

At a preliminary hearing, Judge Lewis accepted Taylor’s argument that “at no point was he shown in a way that could be described as positive, or even neutral”. 

He added: “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.” 

The case will now proceed to a full trial, where Coogan, Baby Cow and Pathe will have to defend the defamatory portrayal.

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