Dean of York Minster receives ‘abusive’ letters over Richard III
A YORKSHIRE MP has appealed for calm after it emerged the Dean of York has called in the police over a series of threatening letters she received about the final resting place of Richard III.
York Central MP Hugh Bayley warned people against “re-igniting the War of the Roses” as he revealed the Very Reverend Vivienne Faull has received “extreme” letters after she refused to publicly oppose plans to bury the last Yorkist King at Leicester Cathedral.
The remains of Richard III, who was slain at the battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, were discovered in a car park in Leicester last month by a team of academics from the University of Leicester.
Under the terms of its excavation licence, the university is permitted to decide where the king is now laid to rest, and has already made clear it wants him to be buried at Leicester Cathedral. But a rival campaign has emerged to bring the Yorkshire-born king back to his chosen resting place of York Minster.
Dean Faull, who until her appointment at York last summer was the Dean of Leicester, has maintained a “neutral” stance over the issue. Speaking in a debate in Parliament yesterday, Mr Bayley called on the Government to establish an independent commission to decide the matter – but said that in the meantime, the public must “calm down”.
“I have received many letters and emails from members of the public supporting burial in York,” the Labour MP said. “Most are thoughtful, well-argued and based on scientific facts - but some are, frankly, inflammatory.
“I talked to the Dean of York yesterday, and some of the letters she has received at the Minster are so extreme that she has referred the correspondence to the police.
“I would say to everybody - calm down. Let us all respect the memory of a former king of our country, and let us discuss, in a dignified and sober way, where his remains should finally be put to rest. We do not want to reignite the Wars of the Roses.”
A spokesman for the Dean and Chapter of York, which is are responsible for overseeing the Minster, confirmed Dean Faull has received “abusive” letters, which she has passed on to the Minster’s own police force.
“York Minster has received a number of letters about Richard III, a small number of these have been abusive,” he said. “These have been passed to the Minster Police, and they continue to monitor the situation closely.”
Mr Bayley had called the Westminster Hall debate yesterday to set out York’s case as the rightful resting place for the fallen king. Sporting an enormous white rose in his lapel for the occasion, Mr Bayley said both the king and his descendants wanted him to be buried at York Minster, and that the original decision to allow Leicester University to choose his final resting place had been taken before the excavation took place - when even the academics behind the project thought it “unlikely” they would find Richard III.
“The decision should be taken on independent national advice, not delegated to archaeologists from Leicester who clearly support the Leicester cause,” Mr Bayley said.
York Outer MP Julian Sturdy backed Mr Bayley’s plan for an independent commission, and attacked the Government’s “finders, keepers” approach to the issue.
“The people of York are profoundly grateful to the University of Leicester and their archaeologists’ efforts in recovering and identifying the body of the Richard III,” the Tory MP said. “However, they remain frustrated they were not given the opportunity to put forward their views.
“Instead of allowing campaigners on all sides to debate the issue in a democratic fashion, the Government and the university appear to have hashed out this important decision behind closed doors - and concluded it in a sort of ‘finders, keepers’ agreement.”
However, Justice Minister Jeremy Wright insisted the university’s right to choose Richard III’s burial site was enshrined in its excavation licence - and so “in law”. But he promised to facilitate a meeting between the two York MPs and the university, to allow them to make the case for bringing the king back to Yorkshire.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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