A DESPERATE family from Westcliff have told how their son and brother has been left languishing in a Czech Republic jail for nine months.

Lakhbir Sandhu, 42, has been in prison since January after being arrested on suspicion of tax evasion and money laundering.

Yet now, nine months on from the arrest, he has not been charged with anything.

His family, originally from Westcliff, claim Mr Sandhu flew to the country to give a witness statement in relation to a case of tax evasion, but was deceived as to the purpose of the trip and arrested after giving his statement.

They had limited visits and calls during the first three months before they could understand the gravity of the situation.

But now the issue has gone on for so long they have been forced to go public, including enlisting the help of Southend West MP Sir David Amess, who spoke at the House of Commons about the issue on Thursday.

Kulbir Sandhu, Lakhbir’s father, who lives in Southbourne Grove, said: “It’s very distressing, we believe that the Czech authorities already believe he is guilty and are not letting him leave.

“He has never had anything to hide, but since the beginning he has been kept in a closed prison. His mother has only been able to see him once since his arrest.

“We’re getting very concerned about his health, he has lost 20kg in weight and is kept isolated for 23 hours a day.”

Nikki Sandhu, 41, Lakhbir’s sister, added: “This is an extremely complicated and complex case. He has a state lawyer over in the country, but what he needs is a specialist tax scheme lawyer to represent him.

“There is a process of innocent until proven guilty, but in this case their system just believes he is guilty and he has not had a chance to give his side. It’s very difficult for us to support him, and we don’t have the money to privately fund a specialist for him.

“There have been times where we have tried to visit, but they keep getting cancelled and rearranged, which means we have to rebook holiday from work and change flights, which is not always that easy to do.”

Mr Sandhu’s family said he has now also lost a home in Swindon - and his job in the gas trading industry.

'I'll do all I can'

Sir David Amess MP has vowed to do all he can to get the family over to Czech Republic to see Lakhbir.

The MP for Southend West said it was vital Lakhbir, a British citizen, had the right legal representation.


He said: “Mr Lakhbir Sandhu’s parents are constituents who came to see me at my surgery.

“They raised concerns regarding their son’s detention in a Czech prison for nine months without being charged.

“I raised the matter in the House of Commons last Thursday and the Leader of the House has put me in touch with several people who should be able to assist with the present situation.

“The priorities for Mr Sandhu’s family are to be able to visit him and make sure that he has proper legal representation and that is what I intend to secure for them.”

Kulbir Sandhu thanked Mr Amess for his help with the case so far, saying that he had been “extremely supportive”.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are assisting a British man who is in detention in the Czech Republic, and are in contact with both his family and the prison authorities about his case.”