UK diplomat in Bali investigated over relationship with Briton jailed for drugs

The Foreign Office confirmed last night that it was investigating reports of an alleged relationship between a female British diplomat and a prison inmate serving six years for drugs charges on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali.

Alys Harahap, 30, a vice consul, was said to have been caught by prison officers embracing inmate Julian Ponder during one of their regular meetings inside the notorious Kerobokan Prison, according to the Mail on Sunday.

The Foreign Office declined to say if it had suspended the newly appointed Ms Harahap after officials at the prison reportedly accused her of inappropriate behaviour and of breaching prison rules and regulations. “We take allegations of this nature extremely seriously and we investigate them thoroughly,” the Foreign Office said. “We do not comment on individual cases.” Ponder, 44, a former antiques dealer, was linked to Lindsay Sandiford, an Englishwoman sentenced to death by firing squad by a Balinese court for cocaine smuggling in 2013.

He was sent to Kerobokan, a dirty prison that was home for some of the 2002 Bali bombers and previously known for internal corruption. Ponder was said to have been an unpopular figure within the notorious prison and had been sentenced to solitary confinement after a brawl with a fellow inmate.

Ponder’s meetings with the married diplomat were said to have gone back a couple of months but they were allowed time alone in the clinic, where he was being treated for his injuries, and during private meetings inside the governor’s office to discuss the case, according to the Mail on Sunday.

“I can only hope this is a misunderstanding and that Alys was giving this prisoner a hug to say, ‘take care of yourself’,” a former honorary consul on the island, Mark Wilson, told the newspaper. “It may have been something entirely innocent that has been misinterpreted.”

The diplomat, who studied Indonesian at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, had moved from Hong Kong where she lived with her husband and two daughters and started the job earlier this year. Her position is fairly low-ranking.

The prison governor, Farid Junaedi, said that he had not made a formal complaint but welcomed the inquiry by the Foreign Office. “It is a good thing and it should help us to understand each other better,” he was quoted as saying. “We have been working professionally in dealing with problems in the prison.

“I am not concerned with the relationship between them [Ponder and Ms Harahap]. It is not our business. I am only concerned with Ponder’s behaviour in prison.”

Ponder, 44, is one of several Britons who have been given jail terms for drugs offences in a country that has a zero-tolerance attitude towards such crimes. He was cleared of trafficking but was jailed for possession of cocaine and given six years.

Two other Britons – including Ponder’s estranged partner – received shorter sentences after they were named by Sandiford following her arrest in May 2012 at Bali’s airport after officers found 4.8kg of cocaine inside her luggage. She said she was expected to deliver the shipment to Ponder.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power