Desperate death row drugs granny sues Foreign Office

The British grandmother facing execution in Indonesia this week is suing the Foreign Office for not providing her with legal assistance.

Lindsay Sandiford has avoided being taken into the jungle and shot after giving notice that she intends to file an appeal.

The 56-year-old from Teesside exhausted her family's finances to pay for the unsuccessful defence in her trial, which ended with her being sentenced to death for attempting to smuggle £1.6 million of cocaine into Bali.

She must now find legal assistance by February 12th to help her prepare the detailed appeal in Indonesian, a language she does not speak, to avoid execution after that date, legal action charity Reprieve told

Sandiford is currently in Kerobokan jail, where up to 11 prisoners share crowded, hot cells often infested with rats.

One local lawyer told the Mirror Sandiford is isolated and withdrawn, spending her time knitting. "She is too difficult to deal with," Ari Soenardi told the Mirror newspaper. "She is struggling to find anyone."

Legal action charity Reprieve is seeking a judicial review against the government for not making arrangements with a lawyer to represent Sandiford's interests. It argues officials were unlawful in breach of its EU law obligations to ensure she does not face the death penalty.

"Lindsay's poverty means that she has ended up sentenced to death after a manifestly unfair trial," Reprieve investigator Harriet McCulloch said.

"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 Foreign Office has repeatedly insisted it is firmly against capital punishment in the wake of her sentencing last week. It is refusing to give her legal assistance, however.

"Her Majesty's government does not provide legal representation for British nationals overseas," a spokesperson said.

"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."

Sandiford's death sentence surprised her constituency MP, the Liberal Democrat backbench foreign affairs spokesperson Martin Horwood, after prosecutors had originally sought a 15-year jail sentence.

"I guess I'm afraid some of us perhaps relaxed a little," he admitted to the Guardian newspaper.

"This has come as a real shock that the judges have actually delivered a sentence which is obviously much, much harsher than the one that was actually requested by prosecutors."

Foreign secretary William Hague raised the case with the Indonesian foreign minister last November, the spokesperson added.

Sandiford has two further avenues of appeal through the courts and then a chance to apply for presidential clemency.

Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has granted clemency four times since coming to power in 2004. But his country has one of the world's harshest drug control regimes and there are currently 40 foreign nationals on death row.