UK

Hillsborough Justice Campaigner Anne Williams Dies Of Cancer

18/04/2013 10:29 BST | Updated 18/04/2013 13:32 BST

Hillsborough justice campaigner Anne Williams has died after battling cancer.

Mrs Williams, 60, whose 15-year-old son Kevin died at Hillsborough, was one of the loudest voices throughout the campaigners' efforts for justice.

It was her fight to get her son's inquest verdict of accidental death overturned that is credited with leading to fresh hearings for all 96 supporters who died.

anne williams

Campaigner Anne Williams whose 15-year-old son was killed at Hillsborough seen attending a memorial service at Liverpool FC

She defied doctors' expectations to attend what was her last public appearance at the Hillsborough memorial service at Anfield on Monday.

She was diagnosed with terminal cancer in October, but despite her ill-health she carried on her campaign and attended a hearing at London's Royal Courts of Justice in December when the original inquest verdicts were quashed.

Speaking after the historic hearing, which she attended in a wheelchair, she thanked Attorney General Dominic Grieve for being "a man of his word" in pushing for the new inquests.

She said: "I am glad we never gave up. It has been hard, but we wouldn't have been here today.

"I'd like a corporate manslaughter verdict in the inquest, it's the least for what they have done.

"God willing, I will be here, it has been a long wait to see justice.

"I am so glad I could be here today to hear it for myself."

Referring to the cover-up that shifted blame away from the authorities and on to the victims, she said: "I can't forgive them the extremes they went to. Why didn't they just give us the truth?"

Liverpool FC posted a statement on Twitter saying:

Sheila Coleman, spokeswoman of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign told the Liverpool Echo: “I am immensely saddened by the death of Anne Williams, she paid the ultimate price for her fight for justice. Quite simply she was an inspiration.

“When I saw Anne on Monday I knew it was the last time I would see her alive, it was very emotional.

“Anne was in her wheelchair outside Anfield surrounded by people who had supported her fight for all the years.

“Anne didn’t want to die, we had been looking forward to continuing the fight but then she was diagnosed with that dreadful illness.

“It was only her sea of will power that got her to the service on Monday. She was determined to be there for her son and fulfil her duty. You could tell she was weary.”

Other friends and well-wishers took to Twitter to pay tribute to the campaigner who seemed to embody the spirit of the families who fought for justice for almost 25 years.

In a statement Steve Rotheram, MP for Liverpool Walton, said: "Whilst Anne's death following her recent illness may have been expected it is no less painful to the family and friends that she leaves behind and I send my condolences to all those who knew and mourn her passing.

"Anne Williams' passing is a painful reminder of the families' long and arduous fight for justice. My sincere hope is that after a battle that demanded too much of her time and energy, Anne is now at peace with the son that was taken from her in April 1989.

"Hillsborough continues to be an enormous cross to bear for any of the families or survivors connected to that fateful day. The truth is, many of us will never know the physical, emotional and psychological toll of being involved with one of the greatest injustices in living memory.

"For many observers in Britain, Anne's story is the most well known as we have long been aware that her son Kevin was alive well past the 3.15pm cut off and that with a proper emergency plan deployed, he could have been saved.

"For almost a quarter of a century, the fight for truth and justice became the work of Anne's life. She was routinely let down by an establishment hell bent on protecting themselves rather than protecting the families.

"Kevin's last word before he died on the pitch at Hillsborough was "Mum". Anne's relentless pursuit of justice for her son personified the unyielding bond of a mother's love for her child. She was an inspiration to thousands of women across Merseyside and Britain.

"Despite her cruelly timed death today, Anne's story, like that of so many other families, continues to give me the resolve to fight for the 96 every single day that I am in parliament.

"In a week that saw the funeral of a woman described as the 'Iron Lady', Liverpool will mourn the loss of a real woman of steely determination."

Bishop of Liverpool the Rt Rev James Jones, who chaired the Hillsborough Independent Panel, said: "Anne was a woman of remarkable courage and determination. She had a strength and an energy that flowed from her love for Kevin. She will go down in history as one of the key people who brought to light the truth of the Hillsborough tragedy."