Steve Coogan being sued for libel over ‘weasel-like’ role

Steve Coogan being sued for libel over ‘weasel-like’ role

Steve Coogan is being sued for libel by a university official over a “weasel-like” role in the actor’s film about the discovery of Richard III’s remains in a car park.

The Alan Partridge creator, 58, was a writer and producer on ‘The Lost King’, which tells the real-life story of amateur history sleuth Phillipa Langley’s quest to unearth the ruler in Leicester in 2012, 500 years after he was killed.

Richard Taylor, a former deputy registrar of the University of Leicester, is suing Steve, his production firm Baby Cow and Pathe Productions.

A High Court hearing in London on Thursday (29.02.24) was told by William Bennett KC the university administrator was unfairly portrayed in ‘The Lost King’ as a “suited bean-counter” who was “patronising and misogynistic” to Phillipa, played by Sally Hawkins, 22, in the 2022 movie.

Andrew Caldecott KC, representing Steve, insisted the firm was “based on a true story” rather than a literal portrayal.

He stated: “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 Bennett KC said in his written submission: “The relevant context is the ‘good versus bad’ narrative, which runs through the film.

“Ms Langley is portrayed as the gutsy underdog heroine struggling against opposition and the claimant as the arrogant villain. He takes the credit, which was rightfully hers, for himself and the university.”

Richard Taylor is now chief operating officer at Loughborough University, and the court also heard he was shown in Steve’s movie as a “devious, weasel-like person” and a “suited bean-counter” who mocked Richard III’s disability.

Richard is played in ‘The Lost King’ by Lee Ingleby, 48, with Steve playing the estranged husband of historian Phillipa.

Steve and the two production companies are defending the libel claim, and the case continues.