British government faces legal action over failure to provide 'adequate' lawyer for Lindsay Sandiford
Published 31/01/2013 | 10:15
URGENT court action is being brought against the Government today over funding for legal representation for the British grandmother sentenced to death in Indonesia for drug smuggling.
The law firm involved in the case says the High Court challenge is against a decision not to arrange "an adequate lawyer" for Lindsay Sandiford, 56, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
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 onto 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.
Sandiford, who is said to have no money, has notified Indonesian officials that she intends to appeal against the ruling.
Law firm Leigh Day, which is working with the charity Reprieve - which seeks to protect the interests of prisoners worldwide - said it would cost around £2,500 to pay for an adequate lawyer to take on her case.
Leigh Day is seeking a judicial review of the Government's decision not to pay.
Sandiford had not been properly represented since her arrest at Bali airport in May last year, when customs officers found the drugs sewn into the lining of her suitcase, it said.
Richard Stein, partner in the human rights team at the firm, said: "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."
Today's application will be heard by Mrs Justice Gloster and Mrs Justice Nicola Davies.