A FORMER senior police officer who was a key figure in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster has backed calls for the release of documents relating to the tragedy.

More than 130,000 people have signed an online petition demanding the publication of cabinet papers.

Flintshire councillor Alison Halford was the assistant chief constable of Merseyside Police at the time of the disaster. She said the campaign had her full support.

“I believe it is hugely important that all documents are out in the open,” she said.

“So many people lost their lives. It was such a terrible tragedy.”

Ms Halford, the Ewloe ward councillor, headed the force’s casualty bureau, which helped to identify victims and fielded thousands of calls from worried family and friends.

She said she had suffered flashbacks to the days following the disaster on April 15, 1989.

“The memories of that weekend are still very fresh in my mind,” she said.

“It was an extremely difficult, traumatic and stressful time for everybody involved.”

Holywell teenager John McBrien, 18, was among 96 Liverpool supporters who died in the disaster at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium.

He travelled to the FA Cup semi-final tie against Nottingham Forest with the Deeside Liverpool Supporters Club.

Delyn MP and Liverpool supporter David Hanson has signed the petition and encouraged others to follow his lead.

“I believe it is important that all government documents relating to the Hillsborough disaster are now released – as requested by the information commissioner,” he said. “Those affected by the events at Hillsborough have had to wait far too long for full disclosure and the government should publish these documents.”

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen and the club’s current manager Kenny Dalglish have added their names to the petition.

Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami said: “It is important to give full disclosure to the family and friends of those affected by the disaster.”

In 2009 the Labour government set up an independent panel to review documents relating to the tragedy and rule which should be made public.

However, last month the information commissioner Christopher Graham said the papers must be published. Mr Graham’s decision related to a freedom of information request by the BBC.

The Government has said it is happy for all documents to be released as soon as the panel, in consultation with victims families, decides.

A spokesman said: “We expect them to be shared with the Hillsborough families first and then to the wider public.”