THE Bishop of Liverpool James Jones has announced he will retire on his 65th birthday in August.
As chair of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, the Rt Rev James Jones played an instrumental role in establishing that Liverpool fans were not to blame for the catastrophe.
He said that by standing aside he would give his successor the opportunity to form a new leadership team.
In a report published in September, the Hillsborough Independent Panel revealed that a cover-up to shift the blame on to the victims took place following the disaster.
A series of reviews are currently looking into the actions of police officers involved in the Hillsborough inquiry following the tragedy in April 1989, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool supporters.
The Rt Rev Jones will remain as adviser to the Home Secretary on Hillsborough after he retires.
In a letter to his Diocese, he wrote: "It has been a privilege as Bishop to serve the wider community, not least in chairing the Hillsborough Independent Panel.
"The Diocese has recognised the rightness of me doing this which has given me great strength.
"The way the families and survivors have received the panel’s report and the way truth is now opening up the path to justice affirms the worth of the panel’s work."
The Bishop was reportedly persuaded to take up the post in 1998 by Tony Blair.
Bishop James said it was with "a sad heart but a prayerful sense of rightness" that he had decided to step down and urged people to remember his Catholic counterpart at this time.
"Please hold in your prayers Archbishop Patrick for a good and happy recovery and the Archdiocese as his successor is sought," he said.