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Smuggler's death sentence is 'inhumane', says Branson

Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson has offered his support to a Teesside woman on death row in Indonesia.

Lindsay Sandiford, originally from Redcar, was sentenced to death by firing squad in January 2013 for smuggling cocaine into the country.

From her cell on death row the 57-year-old grandmother wrote to the billionaire businessman asking him to support an appeal.

Mr Branson has now responded saying he fully supports Ms Sandiford, and he described the death sentence as inhumane:

I strongly believe that the death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment, and every execution is one execution too many.

We are following Lindsay Sandiford’s and other cases closely and fully support efforts that are currently underway to aid her appeal.”

– Sir Richard Branson

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FCO 'closely following developments in Indonesia'

"We are closely following Lindsay Sandiford’s case in Indonesia. We stand ready to provide consular assistance to Ms Sandiford and her family at this difficult time, if it is requested."

"It is the long-standing policy of the UK to oppose the use of the death penalty in all circumstances. We believe it undermines human dignity, there is no conclusive evidence of its deterrent value, and any miscarriage of justice leading to its imposition is irreversible and irreparable.

"We are closely following the developments in Indonesia. We have repeatedly made representations to the Indonesian government on this matter and we will continue to do so. We cannot comment in detail on individual cases."

– Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson

Redcar Lib Dem candidate: Nick Clegg visit may be a 'double-edged sword'

The Liberal Democrat candidate for Redcar has swiftly changed his stance after exclusively telling ITV News Tyne Tees that he's not convinced a visit by Nick Clegg to the constituency 'would do him any favours'.

Josh Mason told our Political Correspondent Paul Brand that the Deputy Prime Minister wasn't the 'most popular politician' and that a visit may be a 'double-edged sword':

Shortly afterwards, Mr Mason issued this statement:

Nick has shown real guts as our party leader and is someone I admire and respect…

...I have no doubt that if Nick now came to Redcar and met all the people who have benefitted from having the Liberal Democrats in government he would be well received."

– Josh Mason, Redcar Liberal Democrat candidate

Reacting to Mr. Mason's comments Nick Clegg said, "At the end of the day, I am not going to duck the fact that five years in government has its controversies":

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Burst water pipe causes flood at Redcar Hospital

Redcar Primary Care Hospital is open, despite floods caused by a burst water pipe.

Pictures show the extent of the floods in the front car park, but clinics were unaffected.

The hospital car park flooded but the hospital is open. Credit: Incidents on Teesside and Co Durham

The mains water pipe at Redcar Primary Care Hospital burst earlier today and flooded most of the hospital car park, which is currently closed.

“The hospital is operating as normal and all services are running as normal. The Pharmacy did close temporarily but has now reopened.

“The flooding is now under control and NHS Property Services is continuing to work in partnership with the local fire brigade, Northumbrian Water and the local council to manage the situation. We would like to thank all the agencies involved for their support – in particular the staff at Redcar Hospital who ensured that patient care was not affected.

“If members of the local community are visiting the hospital, please be aware of the temporary parking difficulties.”

– Spokesperson, NHS Property Services Ltd
The car park is closed because of a burst mains water pipe. Credit: Incidents on Teesside and Co Durham

Man missing from Redcar

Anthony Smith

Police are appealing for information about a missing man from Redcar.

Anthony Smith, 56, was last seen at his home on Trent Road, Redcar, at around 8.30am on February 16. There was a sighting of him on Milton Street, in Saltburn, at around 5.30pm on February 17.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Cleveland Police on 101.

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