Drug smuggler Lindsay Sandiford loses appeal for legal funds

Lindsay Sandiford Lindsay Sandiford reportedly has no funds for further appeals

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A British grandmother convicted in Bali of drug smuggling has lost her appeal over a UK government refusal to fund her legal challenge against a death sentence.

Lindsay Sandiford, 56, of Cheltenham, was sentenced by a court in Bali for smuggling 4.8kg (10.6lb) of cocaine.

Her lawyers said she needed £6,000 for an appeal to Indonesia's Supreme Court.

Judges at the UK's Court of Appeal dismissed her case, saying the reasons would be given "as soon as possible".

Sandiford was arrested after a flight from Thailand in May 2012 and accused of being at the centre of a drugs ring.

Following her conviction earlier this year, the prosecution recommended a prison sentence of 15 years but judges later sentenced Sandiford to death by firing squad.

'Troubling case'

Her lawyers earlier told the Court of Appeal in London that Sandiford needed about £8,000 for her next appeal in Indonesia.

They said £2,000 had already been found, but about £6,000 was still needed from the UK government as money from private sources was "fully exhausted".

Foreign Office policy

  • The FCO can provide some assistance for Britons arrested abroad, such as providing a list of local lawyers and interpreters
  • But it has rules regarding what it cannot offer
  • It does not help get someone out of prison or detention
  • It does not offer legal advice, start legal proceedings or investigate a crime
  • It does not pay for any costs as a result of being arrested
  • It does not prevent authorities from deporting a British national after release

The UK government has refused to fund her legal challenge as a matter of policy - and in January, High Court judges agreed the government was not legally obliged to pay for "an adequate lawyer" to represent her.

On Monday, Lord Justice Elias, Lord Justice Patten, and the Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, dismissed her attempts to challenge that ruling.

Lord Dyson said the court had given "very careful consideration" to the issues raised in what he described as a "troubling" case and a "terribly serious matter".

He said it was "most unfortunate" that the sum required to secure the representation sought by the appellant was "relatively speaking" a "very small sum indeed".

"But that cannot affect the principle that we have had to consider and it cannot affect our decision," he added.

"It may be that other means may be found to secure the relatively small sum in the course of the next few days."

Rosa Curling, a solicitor with law firm Leigh Day, which is representing Sandiford, said outside court: "We are obviously very disappointed by the decision and we will consider with our client once we have received the reasoning of the court whether to appeal to the Supreme Court."

'Independent person'

Earlier, Aidan O'Neill, appearing for Sandiford, told the court it was reasonable to expect the Foreign Office to provide funding.

Start Quote

The government won't assist despite pontificating that they are opposed to the death penalty”

End Quote Lindsay Sandiford

Mr O'Neill said the government's claim to have "a long-standing policy" not to provide funding was not true and it had in the past provided financial assistance, in exceptional circumstances, to prepare legal proceedings.

However, Foreign Office lawyers said "it does not operate a legal aid scheme to cover legal expenses for British nationals involved in criminal proceedings abroad, nor does it provide funds in exceptional cases".

They said the government made grants to charities, such as human rights charity Reprieve, to assist people charged with capital offences and, in appropriate cases, to make state-to-state representations.

Zoe Bedford, of the charity Reprieve, which has supported Sandiford's case, said: "Never has there been a clearer example of how the death penalty falls predominantly on those who do not have the funds to defend themselves."

Sandiford was originally from Redcar, in Teesside, but her last UK address was in Gloucestershire.

In a message to her supporters on Sunday, she said she was appealing "first and foremost" so she could meet her granddaughter, who was born in December.

"I've always been an independent person and I hate not to be able to pay my way," she wrote.

"I am trying to help myself. As you are probably aware the government won't assist despite pontificating that they are opposed to the death penalty.

"I knit and have just finished a piece that I'm hoping to auction to assist paying for my local lawyer and his assistants."

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