UK

Lindsay Sandiford Offers £6,000 Jumper To Foreign Office Minister To Help Fund Death Penalty Appeal

22/04/2013 10:16 BST | Updated 22/04/2013 12:18 BST

British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford, currently on death row in Indonesia for drug smuggling, has accused the UK government of heartlessness concerning her plight, as the Foreign Office fights a charity's effort to secure funds for her death penalty appeal.

The 56-year-old from Teesside, was arrested on £1.7m drugs charges in Bali and faces a firing squad if she loses her next appeal.

She accused Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt of being out of touch in expecting her to find £8,000 for a lawyer from her own funds, suggesting he might like to bid for a jumper she is knitting in order to auction it for appeal funds.

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Lindsay June Sandiford fans herself as she arrives at the courthouse for a hearing in Denpasar, Bali

"Perhaps you would like to bid £6,000 for my jumper. I think the colour might suit you," she said. "If I should die – and I hope I don’t, but I fear I may – then I hope that my execution will prompt the British government to do more for others."

Lawyers for Sandiford go to the Court of Appeal in London on Monday over the government's refusal to fund her appeal against her death sentence. At the end of January, UK High Court judges upheld the Government refusal to fund her

At her trial earlier this year, prosecution lawyers asked for Sandiford to serve a 15-year sentence, but a panel of judges, headed by Amser Simanjuntak, concluded the Brit had damaged the image of Bali as a tourism destination and weakened the government's programme of drug annihilation, and she has since lost another appeal to the High Court.

Sandiford has exhausted her own family's funds and donations from supporters - one of whom, James Cartwright from Nottinghamshire, raised £2,500 on a Just Giving site to pay for her last appeal.

The Indonesian Supreme Court is now the final court standing between her and the firing squad, apart from if clemency is granted by the country's president.

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Lindsay Sandiford has written an open letter to Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt

In a letter to the UK government, given to HuffPost UK by human rights charity Reprieve, Sandiford said:

"I am sitting in my death row cell here in Bali. Yes, I feel depressed. Yes, I know I have been stupid. Yes, I want to say sorry for what I have done – sorry to the British people for the shame I have caused and – more than anything – sorry to the people of Indonesia. And yes, I am totally humiliated.

"But I don’t want to beg. I’ll accept help, because I’m desperate and I don’t know where to turn. I am unspeakably grateful, for example, to the man who does not know me, but has set up a JustGiving.com site for me and raised over £2,500 towards the costs of my appeal.

"And I have been touched and humbled by the kindness of so many members of the British public, who have reached into their own pockets in difficult times to help me pay for a lawyer, when the government wouldn’t help me.

"So I don’t have the money to pay a local lawyer, again. I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not very much money. The last appeal cost about £2,600. This time, in the Supreme Court, it will be about £8,000. If I really were a rich drug dealer, it would be no big deal. But I’m not, and you might as well ask me to pay ten million dollars.

"I have been told the government’s position when it comes to British citizens in my position, facing execution in a foreign country: that I or my supporters must raise the funds for my defence, and that the longer I am on death row the more time I have in which to do this.

"They say some of the current cabinet ministers are out of touch. I don’t know much about politics but I do know the minister who said that, Alistair Burt, lives in cloud cuckoo land. My family has done all they possibly can to support me and nobody could ask anyone to do more.

"I myself am knitting a jumper that I will try to auction to raise money, but that’s not going to go far. Exactly how, Mr Burt, do you propose that I come up with £8,000? Perhaps you would like to bid £6,000 for my jumper. I think the colour might suit you.

"I suppose Mr Burt may think it’s my fault that I am where I am. I suppose that’s true, in the same way that it’s true that many people on trial in Britain have only themselves to blame when they get into trouble; but, at least for now, we have a pretty decent legal aid system for them. I suppose even someone who smokes cigarettes (and I’ve done that myself) may have only herself to blame when she gets cancer, but at least we have the NHS.

"The Indonesian system gives legal aid to its own citizens, but not to foreigners. So I cannot get a lawyer, unless I pay for one. In a way, I respect the Indonesians more than my own government at this point: they go out of their way for their own citizens, providing legal help to the many Indonesians who face execution in Saudi Arabia or Malaysia. So they do what the British government is unwilling to do.

"There are others who are even more desperate than me, other British people who face execution without anyone on their side, some who have been unfairly convicted for crimes they never committed. I know that there are some people who think I should die here in this prison cell. If I should die – and I hope I don’t, but I fear I may – then I hope that my execution will prompt the British government to do more for others."

At the first legal challenge to the UK government in January, Mrs Justice Gloster, sitting with Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, said the court understood "the deep concerns of Mrs Sandiford and her family about Sandiford's predicament" but her case must be dismissed.

The FCO reiterated the UK's opposition to the death penalty and said it had repeatedly made representations to the Indonesian government about the case.

But Martin Chamberlain, appearing for the FCO, argued it was neither unfair nor irrational for the Foreign Secretary to refuse to fund her appeal because of the precedent it would set.

There would be pressure to extend such a scheme to other human rights cases where sentences offended "human dignity", such as cases where British nationals might be sentenced to 30 lashes because they are gay in some countries, or a woman might be sentenced for driving a car.

Reprieve investigator Zoe Bedford said: "Lindsay long ago ran out of money for paying her legal fees.

"She now potentially faces the firing squad simply because she has no money to hire a lawyer for her appeal.

"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.

"The FCO should step in to ensure she gets the legal support to which she is entitled - given it would cost them a fraction of what they spend on wine each year, it is hard to see why they are fighting against this in the courts."