Next Wednesday will see the 20th anniversary of Hillsborough, the worst stadium-related disaster in British history, which claimed the lives of 96 people, all Liverpool fans. MARK DOWLING talks to one mother whose fight for justice for her 15-year-old son is still continuing, two decades on
A MOTHER is continuing her long-running campaign for a new inquest into how her son died in the Hillsborough disaster.
Anne Williams, 68, of Walton Place, Blacon, Chester, set up the Hope for Hillsborough campaign in a bid to launch an inquiry into how her 15-year-old son Kevin died in Sheffield on April 15, 1989.
But her latest battle in the European Court of Human Rights ended in dismay at the news the case was deemed inadmissible because it was not submitted in time.
Nevertheless, Miss Williams is determined to continue her fight for justice, and is hoping to return to the attorney general to ask for a review into the case.
She said: “I am used to it now, I have been around the British legal system several times.
“I will never stop – it took me eight years to find out what happened with the original inquest. I never knew what had happened, but the more I tracked down people, the more I kept uncovering new evidence of a fraud.
“I didn’t set out to take the legal system on, but I just wanted answers.”
Miss Williams’ fight for a new inquest stems from the Taylor Inquiry into the worst stadium-related disaster in British history, which claimed the lives of 96 people, all Liverpool fans.
The coroner at the inquiry, Dr Stephen Popper, controversially ruled out any evidence relating to events after 3.15pm that day, decreeing all the victims would have been dead or brain dead by that time.
Miss Williams maintains Kevin was alive for a significant amount of time after that point, until 4pm, adding an off-duty police officer detected a pulse on Kevin at 3.37pm.
She said: “Seven people have said Kevin was alive after 3.15pm. They should have been called in the original inquest.”
But due to the 3.15pm cut-off point, this evidence could not be heard before a jury.
Miss Williams added: “I have been very involved with families and other Liverpool fans who experienced the horror of Hillsborough, and what they go through every day.
“There was no medical equipment and ambulances couldn’t get access into the stadium. If the victims just had access to oxygen, some of them, including Kevin, would be alive today.”
Since then, Miss Williams has submitted three memorials to the attorney general, without success.
The European Court of Human Rights was the latest legal avenue she tried, but because the application was not within the six-month time limit of Lord Justice Stuart Smith’s 1997 scrutiny, the appeal failed.
Miss Williams was understandably disappointed with the ruling, but did take comfort from the appeal being turned down on a technicality.
She said: “It gave me a bit more hope. At least they haven’t thrown me out, saying ‘You’re wrong.’”
Miss Williams has also taken solace from the improved safety standards at stadiums since 1989, although annoyed it took a tragedy the size of Hillsborough before there was any action.
“It is one good thing out of Hillsborough – the safety standards have gone up. The Hillsborough ground hadn’t updated its safety certificate and was years out of date, and you couldn’t do that now.”
If no progress is made with the application of a fourth memorial to the attorney general, Miss Williams intends to go for a judicial review against their answer, where there can subsequently be a High Court hearing when all the evidence will be heard in a public court room.
Miss Williams added: “There would be two days to hear all the new evidence in public, so at least it would be all out in the open.
“It’s a disgrace, some families still don’t know what really happened.”
Her legal team is also considering a private prosecution.
Miss Williams is now calling for more families of victims of the disaster to help her in her fight.
Anne Williams has written a book, When You Walk Through the Storm, priced £10, with all proceeds going to help her fight for justice. For more information about the book, or how to obtain a copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hopeforhillsborough.org.