Hillsborough justice campaigner Anne Williams dies at 60

Anne Williams spoke to the BBC about her campaign in December last year

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Hillsborough justice campaigner Anne Williams has died at the age of 60.

Mrs Williams, who had fought for the new inquest into her son Kevin's death in the 1989 football tragedy, had been suffering from cancer.

Kevin was one of 96 Liverpool fans who died as a result of a crush during an FA Cup match at the Sheffield stadium.

Mrs Williams made her last public appearance on Monday at the annual Hillsborough memorial service at Liverpool's Anfield stadium.

At an inquest in 1991, jurors heard that Kevin and 94 others were dead by 15:15, a verdict which Mrs Williams never believed and, as a result, she refused to accept his death certificate from the coroner.

'Fantastic lady'

She tracked down witnesses, one of whom suggested Kevin uttered the word "Mum" at about 16:00.

Kevin Williams Kevin Williams was 15 when he died in the Hillsborough tragedy

Her calls for a fresh inquest were rejected by attorney generals and the European Court of Human Rights.

But following the publication of The Hillsborough Independent Panel's report in September, a further appeal by the families of the victims to quash the verdicts was upheld.

Mrs Williams, who said she "was never going to give up", travelled to the High Court in December to hear the ruling, despite being terminally ill.

Pete Weatherby QC, Mrs Williams' barrister, said she had had "a quiet determination [and was] a tremendous force who didn't understand defeat".

Kevin Robinson, the former chairman of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, described her as "an absolutely fantastic lady in every way".

'Ultimate justice'

Bishop James Jones, who chaired the Hillsborough Independent Panel, said she was "a woman of remarkable courage and determination, [who] had a strength and an energy that flowed from her love for Kevin."

Anne Williams did not train as a solicitor, but to chat to her, you would think she had been practising law for years.

The housewife and mum from Liverpool became a de facto expert in the British legal system to find out the truth of what happened to her son Kevin.

Anne was incensed by the coroner's assessment that Kevin had died by 3.15pm on the afternoon of the disaster and for more than 20 years, pieced together his last moments, finding the people who tried to help him.

The publication of the Hillsborough Independent Report changed everything for Anne.

By then suffering from terminal cancer, she was brought to the High Court in her wheelchair to see the original inquest verdict of accidental death quashed.

Afterwards, grinning from ear to ear, she said: "I thought they're wearing me down, but I'll wear them down before they wear me down. And I've actually done it!"

Whenever I met Anne I was struck by her quiet dignity, fierce determination and conviction.

She knew that she may not live to see the new inquest, but when it begins, there will be many there who feel indebted to her.

Mrs Williams, who lived in Chester, had been cared for during her illness at the home of her brother Danny and his wife Sandra in Birkdale, and is survived by two children.

Her solicitor Elkan Abrahamson said she had been "a loving mother, not just to Kevin, but also to Michael and Sara, [who would] continue to draw support and strength from her example".

Kenny Dalglish, who was manager of Liverpool on the day of the Hillsborough disaster, said her death was "really sad but for her a release from her suffering and a chance to see her boy again".

"I am sure Kevin will be telling her how proud of her he was [and] our thoughts and prayers are with her family," he said.

A spokesman for Liverpool FC said: "Anne may not have survived to see ultimate justice for her son, but her actions have played a significant part in ensuring that 96 families have moved closer to Hillsborough closure."

The Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, Steve Rotheram, who campaigned for the inquest verdicts to be quashed, said her "passing is a painful reminder of the families' long and arduous fight for justice".

"Kevin's last word before he died was 'Mum' - Anne's relentless pursuit of justice for her son personified the unyielding bond of a mother's love for her child.

Flag flown at half-mast at Liverpool Town Hall The flag at Liverpool Town Hall was lowered to half-mast as a mark of respect

"She was an inspiration to thousands of women across Merseyside and Britain," he said.

In Liverpool, flowers with messages of sympathy were left at the recently unveiled Hillsborough Memorial on Old Haymarket and at the flag at the Town Hall was lowered to half-mast as a mark of respect.

Liverpool City Councillors held a minute's silence before starting a meeting at 17:00 BST.

Mayor Joe Anderson said Mrs Williams had been "an inspirational person whose determination and conviction played a significant role in exposing the cover-up over Hillsborough".

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