Pitcairn Story, The (4 stars)

The Pitcairn Story

Channel 4, Thu 23 Nov, 10.35pm


Sometimes, you think that you’ll have heard it all when it comes to child sex abuse stories. And then something like this comes along. In 2004, in the remote British colony of Pitcairn Island (population 47), six local men were convicted of raping children and young girls over a long period, with the most junior victim recorded as eight years old. Lying 9000 miles from London and a short sail away from Tahiti, the men and their supportive womenfolk claim to be outside of British jurisdiction and accountable only to Pitcairn’s ancient laws, which provide for a paltry three-month sentence for such crimes. After a failed appeal the men now await to be incarcerated in the prison which they helped to build.

With wide-eyed bewilderment, the ex-mayor and one of the Pitcairn Six, as no one has dubbed them, Steve Christian denies all wrongdoing. Not only that, but he reckons, in a dialect which suggests a cross-breeding between a Dundonian and a Tahitian, that he is the victim of a grand conspiracy to remove the islanders so the British government can use the land as an army base. These days, of course, anything is possible when it comes to the state and military operations, but the police officers who investigated the case over a lurid, painstaking five years and the only victim prepared to go on camera baulk at such claims. Not for nothing is this disturbing documentary part of the Trouble in Paradise strand.

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