New evidence in case of British woman on death row in Indonesia leads to call for Government to review its blanket ban on providing legal aid

Mrs Sandiford was refused legal funding by the Government and had to rely on supporters' donations

Senior Reporter

The UK’s highest court has cast doubt on the death sentence handed down to a British grandmother in Indonesia, raising concerns about a number of “serious issues” with the country’s legal system.

The Supreme Court yesterday called on the Government to undertake an “urgent review” of its blanket ban on providing legal aid for Britons on trial overseas after new evidence emerged in the case of Lindsay Sandiford, 57.

The grandmother from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, was convicted last year of trafficking drugs into the island of Bali and was sentenced to death by firing squad. She has claimed she was forced to transport a stash of cocaine worth £1.6 million on a flight from Bangkok in May 2012 to protect her children, whose safety was at stake.

Mrs Sandiford was refused legal funding by the Government and had to rely on donations from supporters to finance her fight against the death sentence. But last month her QC Aidan O’Neill told the Supreme Court she had “no access to any further private funding” to launch any further challenges.

In their ruling, five of the court’s judges supported the High Court and Court of Appeal in dismissing her case, which had sought to prove that the Government’s policy was unlawful.

But one of the five, Lord Carnwath, added: “In the light of new information – not available to the lower courts – as to the course of the proceedings in Indonesia and the steps now available to her there, the court calls on the Secretary of State urgently to review the application of the policy to Mrs Sandiford’s case in the light of that information.”

Video: Lindsay Sandiford in court in 2013

The judges said the new evidence raised “the most serious issues as to the functioning of the local judicial system and its ability to deal justly” with her case.

They said that when it sentenced her, the Indonesian judiciary appeared to have ignored “substantial mitigating factors” such as her age and mental problems, her lack of any previous criminal record and her co-operation with the police, who she helped carry out a “sting” operation which led to the conviction of members of a drug syndicate.

The Supreme Court also acknowledged that Mrs Sandiford required a “substantial sum” to pay for legal assistance to help reopen the case and begin a clemency petition to the President of Indonesia.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We welcome the decision of the Supreme Court to find in our favour, upholding our longstanding policy of not funding legal advice and representation for British nationals overseas.”

Jago Russell, chief executive of Fair Trials International, said: “Effective legal representation abroad is a problem that affects hundreds of people every year.

"We recognise the enormous challenge and cost of implementing a policy of state-funded legal aid for everyone, but Lindsay Sandiford’s case should surely prompt the FCO to ask whether an exception should be made, at least in death penalty cases, as is already the case in countries like Austria and Spain.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers



£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...

Recruitment Genius: Project Director / Operations Director

£50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an incredible opportunity for a ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Administrator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: EWI / IWI Installer

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of design...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'