29 Sep 2004

Defence seeks adjournment of Pitcairn sex trials

10:26 am on 29 September 2004

An eleventh hour attempt has been made to get an adjournment of the trials of 17 Pitcairn men facing a total of 55 sex abuse charges.

The trials are due to start tomorrow, but in the Pitcairn Supreme Court yesterday, the defence made an application claiming apparent judicial bias.

The defence claims that a meeting in December 2000 between the Chief Justice, Charles Blackie, and Baroness Scotland, the British minister reponsible for overseas territories, was improper.

It claims Baroness Scotland was the driving force behind the sexual abuse investigation and pressed for a legal outcome.

It says that has led to a possible perception of judicial bias, which has tainted the other two judges on the panel.

The Prosecution told the court that there was nothing wrong with holding such a meeting and described the defence application as fanciful.