Richard III e-petition: Government response

“The Secretary of State grants licences to exhume buried human remains under Section 25 of the Burial Act 1857. Around 200 licences are issued each year for archaeological purposes.

“On 3 September 2012 the Ministry of Justice granted a licence to Leicester University to exhume human remains found during the excavation of a Leicester car park. The excavation was primarily to investigate a Franciscan friary but also to locate the remains of King Richard III who, evidence suggested, was buried there in 1485.

“The University carried out a series of tests on the remains and on 4 February 2013 announced that one set was those of King Richard III “beyond reasonable doubt”. The MoJ licence prescribes that the remains should, no later than 31 August 2014, be deposited at Jewry Wall Museum or be reinterred at St Martin’s Cathedral or in a burial ground in which interments may legally take place; and that in the meantime they should be kept safely, privately and decently by the University of Leicester.

“The University intends to reinter Richard III’s remains at St Martin’s Cathedral in Leicester. The Secretary of State for Justice and the University are currently defending a judicial review of the decision to grant the exhumation licence to the University of Leicester.

“This judicial review touches on the question of where Richard III should be reinterred. It would be inappropriate to comment further while the judicial review is ongoing.”

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