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Last Updated: Friday, 12 September, 2003, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
Jailed Briton's family petition PM
Nick Baker
Nick Baker has always maintained his innocence
The family of a man jailed in Japan for smuggling drugs has petitioned 10 Downing Street for help.

Nick Baker, 32, from Stroud, Gloucestershire, was jailed for 14 years in June.

He has continued to maintain his innocence, claiming he was duped by a travelling companion into carrying the drugs.

Mr Baker, a father-of-one, was arrested in April 2002 after more than 40,000 ecstasy tablets and 2 lbs of cocaine were found in a suitcase he was carrying at Narita airport, near Tokyo.

His family say he was denied a fair trial and have collected more than 1,000 signatures asking Tony Blair to act on his behalf.

I will not be fobbed off with the tired old argument that our government cannot `interfere' in another country's judicial system
MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford

Baker's mother, Iris, travelled to Downing Street with MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford and other supporters to deliver the petition.

The campaign team then demonstrated outside the Japanese embassy, releasing balloons in a peaceful, silent protest.

Baroness Ludford said: "I will not be fobbed off with the tired old argument that our government cannot `interfere' in another country's judicial system.

"Nick was treated as presumed guilty and we expect Mr Blair to say candidly to Japan as a major ally with a developed democracy that it failed to respect his human rights.

"There are plenty of precedents for action to rescue British citizens," she added.

She said that as Japan was an important EU trade and diplomatic partner, she was also asking European external affairs Commissioner Chris Patten to intervene.

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