'My son was alive at 4pm - he could have been saved'

Hillsborough: a mother's anguish
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The Independent Online
The official account of the Hillsborough disaster maintains that the 96 victims died at 3.15pm and everything was done that could have been done to save them. The relatives have never believed it. Now, new evidence presented to the Independent on Sunday makes the argument for a full inquiry overwhelming. Anne Williams (left) has amassed a detailed dossier to prove that a mixture of official panic and incompetence condemned her son, Kevin, to his fate. The Government has ignored Mrs Williams's documented argument but has awarded pounds 1.2m compensation to 14 of the police officers present. Mrs Williams's evidence, together with Jimmy McGovern's heart-rending TV reconstruction, demands the victims of Hillsborough be heard. The families do not want any more prevarication and obfuscation - they deserve action, and now.

Startling new evidence has emerged to question the coroner's finding that the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster all died instantly at 3.15pm and could not have been saved by the medical rescue services.

The Independent on Sunday has obtained a detailed breakdown of the last minutes in the life of one of the victims that clearly indicates he was alive at 4pm - more than 45 minutes after the inquest found that he had died.

This evidence - which was not available to Jimmy McGovern, writer of the disturbing TV drama Hillsborough screened last Thursday - boosts the argument for a full inquiry into the 1989 tragedy. It raises serious questions over the coroner's verdict that the victims suffered "accidental death".

The victims' families have always maintained that not enough was done to save the victims, that they should be compensated, and that those responsible should be made accountable for their actions.

The Government has twice refused to reopen the inquest and has shown no sign of backing down even after the outcry following the television programme.

Anne Williams was told that her 15-year-old son, Kevin, had died at 3.15pm. But when she pursued her own investigation she discovered the facts did not fit the official account. Ian West, one of the country's leading pathologists, has prepared a report for her, confirming that in his opinion Kevin was alive after 3.15pm.

A woman police special constable traced by Mrs Williams told how he cried out "Mum" as he died in her arms - at 4pm.

An ambulance driver has described to Mrs Williams how he could have saved Kevin, who was lying on the pitch, with a simple emergency procedure, but was under orders to concentrate on others.

"If only that ambulance had stopped, Kevin's life could have been saved," Mrs Williams says. "He told me that he could have performed the tracheotomy that would have saved Kevin's life. He couldn't stop, though - he was acting on police instructions. My son was alive at four o'clock and could have been saved."

In July this year Mrs Williams wrote to Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, asking for an inquiry. She has not yet had a reply or an acknowledgment.

The producer of Hillsborough, Nicola Schindler, believes the evidence surrounding the death of Kevin, who was not one of the victims featured on the programme, is compelling. "Mrs Williams has probably got a lot more hard evidence together than many of the other relatives, and it just shows there really does need to be a new inquiry."

Dr Stefan Popper, the now-retired South Yorkshire coroner who held the inquest, concedes: "With hindsight, I might have perhaps given in, if you like, to avoid all the arguments."

It is also clear that, in the case of Kevin, key witnesses to the crucial period after he was pulled from the crush of fans were persuaded to change their accounts to the inquest, to ensure the official version that they all died at 3.15pm was consistent.

Mrs Williams has obtained sworn statements from two former police officers in which they state categorically that they were put under pressure to dilute their evidence by the West Midlands Police, who gathered evidence for the inquest and investigated the South Yorkshire force's policing of the tragedy.