THE remains of King Richard III must be reburied in Leicester not York, a Cabinet minister insisted yesterday – even as a legal challenge rages.

Speaking in the Commons, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling dismissed a fresh appeal to set up an independent panel of experts to consider the controversy.

Mr Grayling said he was “well aware of the strong feelings that exist” in both Leicester and York about the future of the monarch’s remains.

But he added: “We did reach an agreement with Leicester University, which funded and carried out the appropriate dig. I do think we should stick to the agreement we reached.”

The comments come after the start of a High Court battle to decide the fate of Richard’s remains, which were discovered buried under a council car park in Leicester last year.

Leicester Cathedral has already announced £1.3m plans to create a raised tomb - made out of Yorkshire limestone – to be set within the cathedral's chancel.

But the monarch's relatives have formed the Plantagenet Alliance Ltd to fight for the remains to be buried at York Minster, claiming it was the King's wish.

The Alliance was granted permission to bring judicial review proceedings against the Justice Secretary and the University of Leicester.

However, last month, lawyers for the Justice Secretary argued that taxpayers should not have to foot the bill. A judge, sitting in London, is due to rule on the costs issue soon.

Mr Grayling was challenged to think again by Hugh Bayley, Labour MP for York Central, who has led the case for the 500-year-old skeleton to be reinterred in York.

Mr Bayley said leading archaeologists had dismissed claims that the decision should be made by the University of Leicester, simply because it exhumed the body.