Bali drug smuggling grandmother case: Government faces legal action over failure to provide 'adequate' lawyer for Lindsay Sandiford

 

The Government has been accused of breaching the "fundamental rights" of a British grandmother sentenced to death in Indonesia for drug smuggling by refusing to pay for legal representation as she battles for her life.

Two judges at London's High Court are being asked to rule that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's failure to arrange "an adequate lawyer" for Lindsay Sandiford, 56, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, is unlawful.

Sandiford, originally from Redcar, Teesside, was given the death penalty by a court in Bali last week for taking 10.6lb (4.8kg) of cocaine on to the island.

The sentence would see her shot by a firing squad.

She was accused by the court of damaging the image of Bali and received the sentence despite prosecutors only asking for a 15-year jail term.

The High Court was told that a notice of appeal was filed with Indonesian officials earlier this week and she was given a 14-day deadline to file grounds of appeal.

Aidan O'Neill QC said Sandiford was urgently in need of funding because she is currently without legal assistance and her family have exhausted all of their available resources.

Mr O'Neill said there was "no prospect" that competent counsel would be appointed to represent Sandiford on appeal without the Government providing some funding.

Sandiford would not have access to an adequate lawyer unless the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FC0) made arrangements, or provided funds to an expert non-governmental organisation such as Reprieve, which seeks to protect the interests of prisoners worldwide.

A competent lawyer had been found in Indonesia who was willing to waive fees and act pro bono, but required "operational costs" estimated at £2,500 to be met, said Mr O'Neill.

He told Mrs Justice Gloster and Mrs Justice Nicola Davies that the FCO had unlawfully fettered its own discretion by applying a blanket ban on providing legal representation to British nationals overseas.

The refusal to assist Sandiford was a breach of Government obligations to take all reasonable steps to ensure that her "inviolable human dignity" was respected and protected.

Mr O'Neill said the Government was failing to protect her right to life - and not to face the death penalty - despite being required to do so by the European Convention on Human Rights.

There was also an obligation on the Government to ensure Sandiford had a fair trial and any penalty imposed on her was not disproportionate.

There was also a violation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and a departure, without giving a good reason, from the Government's own policy strategy for the abolition of the death penalty.

This included a commitment to provide adequate legal assistance in countries which retain the death penalty, said Mr O'Neill.

FCO lawyers are arguing that it is not unlawful or irrational under UK-EU law and human rights legislation for the Foreign Secretary to refuse to fund Sandiford's appeal.

Law firm Leigh Day, which is working with Reprieve and representing Sandiford in court, is seeking a judicial review of the Government's decision not to pay.

It argues Sandiford has not been properly represented since her arrest at Bali airport in May last year, when customs officers found drugs sewn into the lining of her suitcase.

Richard Stein, partner in the human rights team at the firm, said before today's hearing: "The Government has a duty to ensure that the human rights of British citizens are protected and that those sentenced to death, or suspected of or charged with a crime for which capital punishment may be imposed, have adequate legal assistance at all stages of the proceedings.

"This judicial review will challenge the Government's refusal to fund the £2,500 in expenses it would cost for a qualified Indonesian lawyer to represent Lindsay in her appeal against execution by firing squad which will take place on the beach in Bali if the Government do not act."

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said that the Government does not fund legal representation for British nationals abroad, but Sandiford's case was being raised through diplomatic channels.

A spokesman said: "We strongly object to the death penalty and continue to provide consular assistance to Lindsay and her family during this difficult time."

Evidence submitted to the court by the FCO revealed that at present there are 13 British nationals who have received death sentences in foreign countries, and 51 others are potentially facing the same sentence.

Some, says the FCO, have not requested British consular assistance while others have returned to the UK and are therefore not being assisted.

Mr O'Neill said it was being suggested that FCO assistance for Sandiford would "open the floodgates" and involve all sorts of difficulties.

But the number of death sentence cases was not great, and the amount being sought to meet the costs and expenses of an Indonesian lawyer for Sandiford was not a substantial amount of money.

Martin Chamberlain, appearing for the FCO, said it would be difficult to limit a scheme of providing assistance to death sentence cases.

He suggested there would be pressure to extend it to other human rights cases where the "human dignity" of other British nationals came under threat.

Cases could include incidents where a Briton was "sentenced to 30 lashes because they are gay - or a sentence for driving a car because you are a woman".

Mr Chamberlain said: "There are jurisdictions in the world where these punishments are given."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
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

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world