The UK’s highest court has called on the Government to carry out an urgent review of whether funding for legal representation can be given in the case of a British grandmother facing death by firing squad in Indonesia for drugs offences.
Supreme Court justices said 57-year-old Lindsay Sandiford, from Cheltenham, but originally from Redcar in North Yorkshire, “remains in jeopardy” and needs a “substantial” sum to continue her legal battle against the sentence, imposed after she was found with cocaine worth an estimated £1.6m as she arrived in Bali on a flight from Bangkok, Thailand, in May 2012.
The the time-limit for her only legal options – an application to the Supreme Court in Indonesia to reopen the case, and an application to the President of Indonesia for clemency – expires on August 29.
Although the panel of five justices dismissed Sandiford’s legal challenge they said a further review of her “extreme” case needed to be undertaken by the Foreign Secretary.
Lord Carnwath, announcing the decision of the court, said the Foreign Office’s reasons for not making an exception to the no-funding policy were not unlawful or irrational.
But he added: “Although that disposes of the appeal, Mrs Sandiford remains in jeopardy. The evidence now available as to the Indonesian proceedings raises serious issues as to the functioning of the local judicial system and its treatment of her case.”
That evidence, which was not considered by the High Court and Court of Appeal, “calls for an urgent further review by the Secretary of State of his policy as it applies to Mrs Sandiford in the light of her present circumstances and her present need for legal help”.
Sandiford, originally from Redcar, Teesside, was convicted of trafficking drugs after admitting the offences, but claimed she had been coerced by threats to her son’s life. She co-operated with the police, leading to four arrests, and the prosecution had called for a sentence of 15 years in jail.