CITY leaders have vowed to continue the fight to bring the remains of Richard III to York – despite the Minster stating it does not want them.

Remains found under a car park in Leicester were confirmed this week as those of the Yorkist King and, amid international debate, more than 12,000 people signed a petition to bring his remains to York Minster from Leicester. A similar petition for Leicester has attracted more than 4,000 signatures.

Campaigners yesterday suffered a setback after the Minster said it believed his remains should be interred at Leicester Cathedral.

However, City of York Council chief executive Kersten England and leader James Alexander said they will continue with their campaign.

Coun Alexander said: “While we acknowledge the sensitivities and delicacy of this matter, we have a duty to reflect the voice of the people of York, King Richard III’s descendants and academic opinion.”

He said the council had written to the Crown and the Ministry of Justice. He said: “Whatever the outcome, we would want a lasting memorial to this last Yorkist monarch in his spiritual home.”

Mrs England said they hoped to forge a closer relationship with Leicester to develop “the legacy of rediscovering Richard”.

A Minster spokesman said: “The Chapter of York understands the strong feeling of some people in York and Yorkshire that Richard III is significant to the history of the county and that therefore his body ought to be returned.

“York Minster itself has a window in his memory and many reminders of Richard’s place in our story.

“However, the recent verification of the identity of his remains follows a significant period in which Leicester and Leicestershire gained a sense of Richard belonging there, at least in death. It was Leicester Franciscans who gave him burial, and the cathedral has a major memorial to his memory at its heart. When the possibility of an excavation of the Greyfriars site began, it was agreed from the start that any remains found would be reinterred in Leicester. When the archaeologists found an intact body the Ministry of Justice licence was drawn up in those terms and explicitly named Leicester Cathedral. Since the news of the finding last year local people, like the people of York, have expressed a very strong wish that Richard, who has been with them since 1485, should stay in their keeping.

“The Chapter supports the terms of the Ministry of Justice licence and the wish of Chapter of Leicester that Richard should be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral. The Chapter of York commends Richard to Leicester’s care and to the cathedral community’s prayers.”

The Lord Mayor of York, Keith Hyman, and York Outer MP Julilan Sturdy have also written to the Queen and Ministry of Justice asking for Richard III to be buried in York.

The letter argues that the King’s remains should be reinterred in York, according to his lifetime’s wish, and not where he was killed in battle near Leicester.