Bute resident Tony Edwards has launched a public appeal for help with the legal costs associated with giving evidence to the new inquest into the deaths of 96 Liverpool football fans at the Hillsborough disaster 25 years ago.
Tony was one of the few ambulance service personnel allowed on to the field to help after a fatal crush developed at the Leppings Lane end of the ground in Sheffield on April 15, 1989.
Tony, who lives in Rothesay, says that while public bodies such as the police, South Yorkshire Ambulance Service and Sheffield City Council will have the cost of legal representation at the new inquest funded by the taxpayer, he will have to fund his own legal representation himself.
Writing on his Tony Edwards Hillsborough Appeal page on Facebook, Tony says: “Just after 3:30 pm on the 15th April 1989 I was in the unenviable position of being in one of the few ambulances allowed on the Sheffield Wednesday football pitch at the F.A. Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
“I was left in an isolated and vulnerable position, one from which I have never fully recovered.
“Despite the damaging effects this has had on me and those close to me, for over 20 years I have spoken publicly about the Hillsborough disaster cover up. I have consistently maintained that people could have been saved and in September 2012 the UK Prime Minister agreed.
“I was not called to give evidence to the Taylor inquiry in 1989/90. In fact, efforts were made to conceal my involvement. This year, more than 25 years after the event, I will be required to give evidence at the new inquest into the deaths of the 96.
“South Yorkshire Police, seven former senior officers from the force (two of whom were involved in “gathering evidence” after the disaster), the Police Federation, Football Association, Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, Yorkshire Ambulance Service, Sheffield City Council, West Midlands Police and I have all been awarded Interested Person status.
“This status, amongst other things, allows an opportunity to have legal representation at the inquest.
“While the Police Authorities, the Ambulance Service and the City Council will have their legal teams paid for by you, the taxpayer, I currently have to find every penny of my legal costs. In addition, with your help and support I am hoping that I will also be able to progress a long awaited civil court case.
“Ambulance Service staff involved with the disaster have been offered general representation by the Ambulance Service Lawyers but as this is only to serve the interests of the Ambulance Service it will inevitably act as a way to gag me. I cannot sit alongside the Ambulance Service managers as I am one of their biggest critics.
“I should not be silenced by not being able to afford advice and support. I need your help and I appeal to you to prevent me from being isolated again.”
Tony has also urged members of trade unions to write to Unison, the union of which he was a member at the time of the disaster, urging them to support him.
“I was a Unison member during the disaster, in fact for over 20 years,” he continued.
“Had I been called to a properly conducted inquest in 1989 I would have received full advice and support from my union.
“I am no longer a union member but I’m not asking for support for anything which has happened since my membership expired. I require support for the period that I was a union member.
“Unison will not answer my letters. Please get your branch to call upon Unison to support me.”
To give a private donation to Tony’s appeal, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.