28 Sep 2004

Britain moves to stop release of documents on Pitcairn sex abuse case

4:14 pm on 28 September 2004

The governor of Pitcairn is trying to stop the release of a raft sensitive documents on the Pacific island's sex abuse case.

Pitcairn Governor Richard Fell, who is also the British High Commissioner to New Zealand, believes the publication of the documents on the eve of the sex trial on the remote British dependency could cause anxiety for the islanders.

The trials of seven Pitcairn men on 96 charges including rape and sexual assault start on the island this week, with the first hearing now expected to begin on Thursday.

In the New Zealand High Court in Auckland today, lawyers for Mr Fell said the documents, said to be confidential and in some cases privileged, should be returned.

Former Pitcairn commissioner Leon Salt had given the documents to Auckland lawyer Christopher Harder seeking his advice on whether or not the information would be disclosed.

In a letter about the likely effects of the release of the documents on the administration of criminal justice on Pitcairn, Mr Fell said the handling of sex cases was a sensitive issue.

Mr Harder represents a New Zealand man, Ricky Quinn, who is seeking a pardon after being convicted of having underage sex with a Pitcairn girl in 1999.