Richard III parliamentary petition misses target

image captionKing Richard III's remains were discovered underneath a car park in Leicester

A petition calling for a parliamentary debate on where to bury Richard III has failed to reach its signature target.

The skeletal remains of the king, who died in 1485, were discovered beneath a car park in Leicester in February 2012.

The online petition, part of the Plantagenet Alliance's campaign to bury him in York, needed 100,000 names to request a debate on the decision to inter him in the Midlands city.

It had gathered 31,260 names when the deadline for signatures passed.

Government e-petitions, which allow the public to request debates in parliament, have a maximum time limit of a year to gather signatures.

The chair of the organisation Stephen Nicolay said he was "not disappointed" about missing the target.

Mr Nicolay, who is the 16th great-nephew of Richard III, claimed that the petition had helped generate discussion on the issue.

"There is clearly a lot of interest in where he will ultimately be reinterred," he said.

"The numbers that are there at the moment are illustrative of the fact that this is an important thing, it is something of national interest."

Judicial review

The remains of the king, who died in battle, were discovered by a team from the University of Leicester under a city car park.

The licence to carry out the dig, issued by the Ministry of Justice, gave the university the authority to decide where to rebury the king.

The monarch's remains are to be reinterred in a specially designed tomb at Leicester Cathedral.

The Plantagenet Alliance has won a judicial review challenging the decision.

Mr Nicolay said the organisation had been "forced" into taking legal action.

He said: "We believe that something as important as the reburial of a former king of England and head of state is not something that should be determined by a local university."

A spokesman for the University of Leicester said their application "makes it clear that, if Richard was found, his remains would be reinterred at St Martin's Cathedral Leicester".

A rival petition calling for the king to be buried in Leicester has gathered over 25,000 names with two weeks remaining until it closes.

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