Drug smuggler grandmother loses appeal cash battle

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British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford has lost a High Court battle over a UK government refusal to fund her appeal against a death sentence imposed by an Indonesian court after she was found guilty of drug smuggling.

Two judges refused to declare unlawful a Foreign Office refusal to pay for “an adequate lawyer” to represent Sandiford, 56, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

Mrs Justice Gloster, sitting with Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, said the court understood “the deep concerns of Mrs Sandiford and her family about Mrs Sandiford’s predicament” but added her case must be dismissed for reasons to be given on Monday.

Sandiford was given the death penalty by a court in Bali last week for taking 10.6lb of cocaine on to the island. The sentence would see her shot by a firing squad.

Prosecutors had asked for only a 15-year jail term.

The High Court in London was told a notice of appeal had been filed with Indonesian officials earlier this week and she had been given 14 days to file the grounds of the appeal.

Aidan O’Neill, QC, said Sandiford was urgently in need of funding because she was without legal assistance and her family had exhausted all their available resources.

The government was accused of breaching Sandiford’s “fundamental rights” by refusing to pay for legal representation as she battles for her life.

In an extraordinary final bid to secure the £2,500 said to be needed to obtain representation from an Indonesian lawyer, Mr O’Neill suggested the court should order the sum to be paid “by way of a loan”, pending an appeal against yesterday’s ruling.

But Mrs Justice Gloster said an appeal had “no reasonable prospect of success” and the court was not prepared to order the government to make a loan. She said: “It would in effect provide the claimant with the relief she seeks in her substantial action.”

It is still open to Sandiford’s lawyers to ask the Court of Appeal to intervene.

Mr O’Neill had earlier told the court a competent lawyer had been found who was willing to waive fees but required “operational costs” estimated at £2,500.

He argued the Foreign Office had “unfairly and unlawfully” fettered its discretion by applying a blanket ban on providing legal representation to British nationals overseas, and that the refusal to assist Sandiford was a breach of government obligations to take all reasonable steps to ensure her “inviolable human dignity” was respected and protected.