Silence will fall around Liverpool football ground today to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
At 3:06pm, the exact time that Liverpool's 1989 FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forrest was called off, Hillsborough families and supporters, joined by the Liverpool Football team will remember the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives.
At a separate ceremony, the bells of Liverpool Town Hall will ring out 96 times to mark each of the lives lost in one of football’s biggest disasters.
As the families of those who died take part in those ceremonies, today marks more than 2 decades not only of remembrance, but more than two decades of searching for what they feel is the truth behind what happened at Hillsborough. 23 years in which many believe there are still more questions than there are answers as to how the disaster unfolded, how so many lost their lives.
April 15th is a date which haunts many in football, yet after years of frustration this year’s anniversary marks what could be a huge turning point for those unanswered questions. Since 2009 the Independent Hillsborough Panel, led by The Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool have undertaken the painstaking process of reviewing hundreds of thousands of official documents surround the disaster, documents which now include all the Government papers including the written records of Cabinet meetings from the time of the tragedy. The belief has long been held by Hillsborough campaigners that those documents contain the truth behind the disaster and evidence that can disprove what campaigners see as the dreadful myths that have long cast suspicion over the behaviour of the fans that fateful day, as well as raising questions about the level of policing and medical assistance available as the tragedy so rapidly unfolded.
Among the families who will gather at Anfield will be Anne Williams who lost her teenage son Kevin Williams at Hillsborough. A determined campaigner, earlier this year Anne forced politicians to look at her claims and what she says is her evidence that her son was still alive after the 3:15 time of death recorded for all those who died. Evidence that Anne Williams believes illustrates that more of those who died on April 15th 1989 could have been saved. Anne’s hope is that the Independent Hillsborough Panels findings will further support that claim and allow her to force a new inquest into Kevin's death so that the actual time he died can be recorded on his death certificate, so that Anne can finally feel that justice has been done for Kevin 23 years after his tragic death with the acknowledgement that Kevin’s life could have been saved.
The Independent Hillsborough Panel have always maintained that with the sheer scale and volume of documents before them, their findings wouldn't be published before the 23rd Hillsborough anniversary. The expectation is that the Hillsborough Panel will release their finding before the end of this year, and that today, April 15th 2012 marks the starting point for that process to begin.