BBC pays its tribute to campaigner for Hillsborough justice

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A STAUNCH campaigner for justice for victims of the Hillsborough disaster is to be honoured at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony following her death earlier this year.

Anne Williams, 62, fought tirelessly to overturn an inquest verdict of accidental death against her 15-year-old son Kevin, who was one of 96 fans who died in the 1989 tragedy during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield.

Mrs Williams had hoped to be there in person to see the verdict changed at next year’s inquests into the deaths, but she died of cancer in April.

The Helen Rollason Award will be accepted on her behalf by her daughter Sara, son Michael, and brother Danny, during tomorrow’s live show which is being staged at the First Direct Arena in Leeds and broadcast live on BBC1.

The award is presented in memory of the BBC presenter who died in 1999 from cancer at the age of 43 and honours outstanding achievement in the face of adversity.

Her daughter, Sara, said: “My mum embodied the very reason this award was created; strength, determination and passion. Her tireless campaigning was driven by the love she had for her son Kevin and her dedication to seeking a new inquest.

“If anyone triumphed over adversity, it’s my mum.”

Mrs Williams became a key spokeswoman for the Hillsborough families in calling for successive governments to re-examine evidence and apply for a new inquest. The original verdicts were quashed by the High Court last December following the damning report into the events of 1989 by the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

At an inquest in 1991, jurors heard Kevin and 94 others were dead by 3.15pm – a verdict Mrs Williams never accepted. She tracked down witnesses, one of whom suggested Kevin uttered the word “mum” at about 4pm.

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 November, which showed a cover-up by South Yorkshire Police, the verdicts were quashed and new inquests ordered.

Mrs Williams travelled to the High Court last December to hear the ruling, despite being terminally ill.