Richard III remains: Reinterment delay 'disrespectful'

Reconstructed face of Richard III A facial reconstruction of King Richard III was made based on the skull found

The Dean of Leicester has asked for a legal battle over the remains of Richard III to be resolved as soon as possible so the king can be reinterred.

The Very Reverend David Monteith said it would become "disrespectful" to the king if the process dragged on.

Richard III was due to be interred at Leicester Cathedral but this is being challenged by the Plantagenet Alliance, which includes 15 distant relatives.

They say it is more fitting for him to be buried in York.

The remains have been at the University of Leicester since they were removed from under a city car park in September 2012.

Dean Monteith said: "The remains of a human being can't simply be left unattended to, and in addition, these are the remains of an anointed king."

The Plantagenet Alliance is seeking a judicial review - and Dean Monteith has written to the Administrative Court asking that the process should be expedited.

Who decides where Richard III is laid to rest?

Richard III's skeleton as found in the grave
  • The licence to exhume Richard III, issued by the Ministry of Justice, gave the University of Leicester the responsibility for the location of reinterment.
  • In February, when the identity of the remains was confirmed, the university asked Leicester Cathedral to commence planning for reinterment.
  • The Plantagenet Alliance wants the licence to be quashed and the king to be laid to rest in York Minster.
  • On 30 April the Plantagenet Alliance made written submissions seeking a judicial review against the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the University of Leicester.
  • The MoJ submitted its response on 27 May and the university did so on 28 May.
  • Leicester Cathedral formally registered as an interested party in the judicial review in May 2013.
'Serious questions'

A judge must decide if there are grounds for the judicial review to take place, and if so, set a date for the hearing.

"If this process was allowed to drag on for a very long time then it would become disrespectful," said Dean Monteith.

"The local community, and national and international community, would be asking serious questions."

Both the cathedral and the University of Leicester, which led the archaeological dig, want the king to be reinterred in Leicester.

The licence to remove the remains stipulated that they must be reinterred by 31 August 2014.

They were were due to be interred at the cathedral in May 2014 - but the cathedral does not want to invest further money in the "time consuming and expensive" project until a decision has been made.

'Not top of pile'

Matthew Howarth, head of litigation at Gordons Solicitors, representing the Plantagenet Alliance, said he could not comment on the dean's request without having read all of his reasons.

"At the moment it is not unusual to have not been given an indication from a court at this stage because courts are very busy," said Mr Howarth.

"We say our case is important but it's not a case of somebody seeking asylum or anything like that, so we are not going to be top of the pile."

A spokesperson for the University of Leicester said: "The University of Leicester, as the licence holder from the Ministry of Justice, is keen for the judicial review to take place at the earliest opportunity.

"As an interested party, the cathedral are within their rights to call for the review to be expedited."

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