Lindsay Sandiford, Grandmother Sentenced To Death For Bali Drugs Bust, To Sue UK Foreign Office

The British grandmother sentenced to death for drug trafficking in Indonesia is to sue the Foreign Office over their alleged failure to support an appeal against her execution.

Lindsay Sandiford, 56, from Teeside, was arrested on £1.7m drugs charges in Bali.

Prosecution lawyers asked for her to serve a 15-year sentence, but a panel of judges, headed by Amser Simanjuntak, concluded that Sandiford had damaged the image of Bali as a tourism destination and weakened the government's programme of drug annihilation.

Lindsay Sandiford arrives at a courthouse in Denpasar, Bali island, Indonesia

She was sentenced to death by firing squad and must launch an appeal by 12 February.

But Sandiford is believed to have dismissed her legal team and exhausted all her family's finances, which means she cannot afford to fund an appeal.

A court official in Indonesia has confirmed his office had received an document lodging Sandiford's intention to appeal, through the head of Kerobokan Penitentiary where Sandiford is being held.

She could still appeal for clemency even if she misses the deadline, human rights charity Reprieve told HuffPost UK.

An appeal would involve filing a complicated legal document in Indonesian, a language she does not speak.

Reprieve, along with solicitors Leigh Day & Co, has filed a judicial review on Sandiford’s behalf against the FCO.

It alleges that: “In failing to make arrangements for an adequate lawyer to represent the Claimant's interests the Defendant is acting unlawfully, in breach of its obligations as a matter of EU law, to take all reasonable steps to ensure that she (a) does not face the death penalty, (b) is not subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment, (c) is not tortured and (d) receives a fair trial.”

Harriet McCulloch, investigator at Reprieve, said: “Everyone knows that capital punishment means that those without the capital get the punishment.

"Lindsay’s poverty means that she has ended up sentenced to death after a manifestly unfair trial.

"In November the FCO spent £10,000 restuffing a stuffed snake called Albert.

"The costs of Lindsay’s pro bono lawyer would amount to a fraction of that.

"The FCO must take immediate action and ensure that she does not lose the chance to appeal her death sentence.”

Reprieve told HuffPost UK that Sandiford had no legal representation throughout various points in her captivity, and the lawyer her family could afford to fund did not speak English and had no experience in cases involving the death penalty.

Since she must pay for food in prison, Sandiford is relying on funds from a charity to survive in prison, the charity said.

Lindsay Sandiford reacts as her interpreter (L) looks on during her trial

A judge must now decide whether the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have breached their obligations and must provide Sandiford with adequate legal representation.

A spokesman for the FCO told HuffPost UK: "We are aware that Lindsay Sandiford is facing the death penalty in Indonesia. We strongly object to the death penalty and continue to provide consular assistance to Lindsay and her family during this difficult time.

“We have made repeated representations to the Indonesia authorities and the foreign secretary raised Lindsay Sandiford’s case with Dr RM M Marty Natalegawa, Indonesian foreign minister during the recent November State Visit of the Indonesian President.

“We understand that under Indonesian law, Lindsay has at least two further avenues of appeal through the courts as well as an opportunity to apply for presidential clemency should these be unsuccessful.

“HMG does not provide legal representation for British nationals overseas. However, we assist British nationals in identifying potential legal representation, including by working closely with NGOs. We will continue to raise this case on diplomatic channels.”

Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood has urged the Foreign Office to rethink its policy on support for Britons sentenced to death abroad.

"Indonesia itself now pays for lawyers to represent its migrant workers facing the death penalty in countries like Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and China," said Mr Horwood.

"I don't think it's unreasonable for Britons abroad to expect the same kind of support from their own government in this kind of extreme and unusual situation."