Saturday, 19 July 2014

For A Retraction And Apology

Sign here:

To: Press Complaints Commission, To Whom It May Concern, Halton House, 20/23 Holborn, London, EC1N 2JD

Two recent slanderous articles regarding St Helena have been cause for great distress.

The articles headlined ‘A culture of sexual abuse of children: Shocking report claims British overseas territory of St Helena is rife with child abuse, domestic violence and sexual exploitation’, and ‘Teenage girls are traded for food: More shocking details emerge of culture of 'sexual abuse of children' on British overseas territory of St Helena’.

The articles by reporter Louise Eccles were published on the Daily Mail website on 15 July 2014 and 16 July 2014 respectively.

Current and former inhabitants of St Helena are horrified by several of the allegations and remarks made in both these articles.

There are numerous serious errors, some of which we can only assume are based on poor judgement and reckless journalism. Another minor error, whilst not offensive, further contributes to our complaint.

Under clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, we as a community are petitioning for a retraction and apology on the following points:

1. In the first article, the reporter claims ‘a vile ‘cultural acceptance of the sexualisation of children’.

As a community we fully object to the notion that any abuse, sexualisation, or harm of any kind would be tolerated. On the contrary, there are procedures in place to safeguard against these issues as outlined on the St Helena Government website.

The Executive Council for St Helena, in response to the first article, issued a statement on 16 July 2014 confirming that all sexual allegations are investigated and those found guilty face the full force of the law. The statement goes on to point out that ‘numerous prosecutions of sex offenders over the past few years demonstrate this’.

We believe that an entire population of people cannot and should not be condemned based on the actions of a minority.

2. The island is not ‘a safe haven for sex offenders’, ‘a sanctuary for paedophiles’, nor has any abuse ever been considered ‘routine’. We attest to the general safety and trust of our community, and the welfare of our children.

Based on the inaccuracy of these statements, we can only presume a complete lack of journalistic verification.

Multiple allegations of this magnitude would surely require significant and accurate research, and without any substantial information that prove these claims as fact, we would like to request a complete retraction.

3. The first article states that the island is ‘poverty stricken’.

We are financially dependent on British aid, but our community and quality of life on the island are far from the destitution that the above statement implies.

There is not a single case of homelessness on St Helena, and there has been no shortage of food or water for several decades.

4. The second article’s headline suggests that ‘teenage girls are traded for food’. The structure of this headline alone implies that this is a common and accepted occurrence. We, as a community, are outraged by this insinuation.

Whilst we cannot speak for absolutely everyone on the island, whether now or in the past, we certainly wish to confirm that this is by no means a present common practice on St Helena.

We have no present need to trade anything for food, and prostitution of any kind is unheard of amongst our people, whether ‘casual’ as the Daily Mail has implied, or otherwise.

Whilst we cannot assume that there have never been cases such as this in the past, we believe that any such incident is likely to be a fairly isolated one.

An entire community cannot, in present day, be held accountable for an event that may, or may not, have happened several generations before our time.

5. The following statement: ‘St Helena is rife with child abuse...’ suggests that the number of sex-related crimes is above average.

A source with access to the full report by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation confirmed two dozen cases of abuse in this unseen and confidential document.

The time period for this was not confirmed; however the source made reference to a number of victims of ‘past’ abuse.

In light of this fact, we can assume that a quantity of these 24 cases have occurred over a number of years.

Additionally, we cannot ignore the fact that 24 cases of these crimes constitute a minority of less than 1% of the overall population of 3800.

We wish for the Daily Mail to consider this fact, and to also recognise that these types of crimes are unfortunately not exclusive to St Helena.

6. Victim blaming is not unheard of amongst the island community, though to a lesser extent than the articles have implied.

Whilst we cannot prove this either way, it is not reasonable to only point fingers at the victim blaming taking place on St Helena.

Victim blaming is a worldwide social issue; the Daily Mail’s articles do not seem to have taken this into consideration and we ask that they do.

7. The journey from Ascension to St Helena is 2 to 3 days by sea, not a ‘2 hour’ boat journey as stated in one of the articles. [I must admit that I had missed that one. But it does raise very serious questions about this Eccles person, who obviously does not check even the most basic of facts, or else lies intentionally.]

8. Lastly, whilst we acknowledge the existence of sexual crimes of varying degrees on St Helena, and trust that the St Helena Government did/will act in the best interests of the victims of these crimes, we do believe that the Daily Mail have embellished the facts and produced a sensationalised and grossly exaggerated version of the truth.

The actions of offenders, and any believed inaction or inappropriate response by higher authorities, do not, and should not, be allowed to define or reflect who we are as a community.

We hereby ask that Daily Mail and the reporter Louise Eccles print a retraction, with the same prominence as the original published articles, for the significant inaccuracies, misleading statements and distortions, and where appropriate, publish an apology to our community of St Helenians.

Note: The source mentioned above revealed no personal and confidential information about any victims or related person(s) in the related cases.


[Your name]


  1. ""The Foundation prepared a confidential report for the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in May last year. It was subsequently shared with the St Helena Government. The Foundation did not share the report with the media. An action plan is currently in place in St Helena which workers from the Foundation are helping to implement.""

    1. Meaning I'm right.

      This thing in the Mail, written by someone who literally does not know where St Helena and Ascension Island are, has been made up out of thin air.

      It is lies, and the Mail is going to have to explain to the PCC why it published it without, very obviously, having checked even so much as the most basic facts in it.

  2. The many friends of the Overseas Territories and St. Helena in both Houses are fighting this one hard as you know because you have done so much to put us on the case. As I said before if you were at Westminster the Mail would be out of the Lobby by the end of the recess for this, you'd get all its many enemies together and make it happen at last. Hope to see you here one day, this would never have been printed if you had been, they would have been too scared of you. I have never met anybody else like you, you are amazing.

    1. You are too kind.

      If I'd be scary to the guttersnipes, then I had wonderful teachers in these matters, who could quite conceivably have given them nervous breakdowns on the spot, and who still could. If some of them had ever been in Parliament...

      You would be in a better position than I to find out who had been sacked from the Lucy Faithfull Foundation and would never work again in, well, anything at all, really. Jolly good.

      Now, on to this person at the Mail. One for our friends in the House. I am starting to wish again that I were there, you know. As I do. Periodically.

  3. Nothing in any of the Sunday papers, nothing on the BBC, this "story" is dead. Well done, Mr. Lindsay. You are a very great man.