U.S. academic says holding Pitcairn trial without first reviewing
documents would be miscarriage of justice
ANGWIN, Calif., USA, September 23, 2004 ----- A U.S. academic
who directs a center about Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific
Ocean, said here today it would be a miscarriage of justice if a
sex abuse trial slated to begin on the island next week is not adjourned
until a public review of documents that contain irregularities and
possible illegalities about the case can be conducted by proper
There has been so much irregularity, so much seeming pre-agreement
toward a given conclusion, so much that smacks of possible illegality
demonstrated in documented form, that any trial conducted before
these very serious matters are carefully studied and resolved would
be a gross miscarriage of justice, said Herbert Ford, who
directs the Pitcairn Islands Study Center in the San Francisco Bay
Ford said he bases his opinion on the substance of documents that
have passed between those governing Pitcairn Island from both England
and New Zealand, and legal personnel asked to develop Pitcairn law
or to have a part in the trial.
Ford cited the following concerns:
That a Kent Constabulary police woman, by written admission, said
she got a Pitcairner on the island drunk in an effort to get him
to reveal acts that might incriminate others who were being investigated
in connection with the present trial.
That at the ministerial level of the United Kingdoms Foreign
and Commonwealth Office a process of restorative justice that might
have held the tiny island nation together rather than ripping it
apart by the traditional trial process was rejected even if
that results in the dislocation of the community, according
to one FCO official.
Pitcairn Chief Justice Blackie held a series of meetings about
the Pitcairn trial with Foreign and Commonwealth Office leadership
in London as early as 2000, about which a legal counselor to the
Pitcairn government warned, This seems, on the face of it,
open to misconstruction and not entirely in keeping with usual practice.
As late as the year 2000 there was ambiguity, and seemingly a
lack of consensus even among New Zealand-based Pitcairn governing
personnel, as to what age constituted the age of consent
for sexual relations on Pitcairn Island.
Because of that ambiguity, which was not known to the accused
at the time, the conviction of a New Zealander for having sex with
a girl of 15 years on the island is now open to possible reversal.
That case, is one from which the current trial of Pitcairners who
are now accused is said to stem.
Simon Moore, who is the lead prosecutor in the present trial,
told Pitcairn governing personnel in 2000 that amnesty in the present
case against the Pitcairn men has its attractions.
The question of alternative dispute resolutions, even in
the criminal law, is gaining international popularity, wrote
Crown Solicitor Moore in May of 2000 to Pitcairns then acting
governor. Restorative justice principles now often apply in
the sentencing process and the rights of victims and their wishes
are protected by statute. I believe that there is a very effective
potential role for restorative justice in this case which would
require those who admit their offending to be confronted by the
victims and their families. I am aware that there are initiatives
of this kind presently operating in England as there are in this
country. In the Pitcairn Island context it would seem especially
The Pitcairn trial as presently being pursued, in addition
to the possible incarcerating of individuals has the potential to
destroy an entire indigenous people group, said Ford, and
in written form the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said it
doesnt matter if that happens.
Already the United Kingdoms open-to-the-entire-world,
dogged pursuit of a traditional, destroying courtroom trial has
wreaked irreparable harm to the fragile fabric of Pitcairn society.
The truth of this is seen in the following quote from Steve Christian,
Individuals and families are being destroyed by the
waiting regarding allegations, and the situation where families
and members within families have been asked to bear witness against
Its current course in this trial - of an entire people,
not just individuals - is a pitiful and wholly unnecessary overkill
on the part of the United Kingdom, particularly when other
less divisive and destructive methods of the administration of justice
are so readily available.
It is hard to not believe that a destructive vindictiveness
toward the Pitcairn people as a whole is present here, said
Ford. What other motive is possible, given the almost certain
death-to-Pitcairn consequences of the course the United Kingdom
Ford said he is aware of an injunction against two persons in
New Zealand forbidding the release of information contained in largely
government sensitive documents about the Pitcairn trial,
but he said he has not received any of the documents quoted from
in this release from those persons.
Pitcairn Islands Study Center, 1 Angwin
Ave., Angwin, CA, USA. Herbert Ford, 707-965-6625, 707-965-2047, Fax: 707-965-6504,
Email: email@example.com, Website: http://library.puc.edu/pitcairn