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Delving into the South Pacific island’s past, the authors chronicle its 10-year clash with the British legal system, which ripped apart a tiny society.T he venerable Privy Council sits behind the usual barricades of modern life on prime London real estate at No. The court’s power has faded from its colonial heights, when one of its decisions banned suttee, the Hindu practice of burning the widow with her husband’s body atop his funeral pyre.

As the wife of the island magistrate, Brian Young, she arrived as one of the official representatives of Pitcairn’s bicentennial and had tea with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

Now Brian was accused of six rapes and was hoping that a successful appeal would keep his case from going to trial.

The open sea has pounded at it for millennia, creating a fortress of 500-foot cliffs fringed with just enough vegetation—banyan, coconut, breadfruit—to support a small population.

Pitcairn has lured dreamers and adventurers in the two centuries since Fletcher Christian and his tiny band of rogues and Tahitian wives found it the perfect hideout from a British Navy seeking to avenge one of the great maritime heists of all time, the mutiny on the The year was 1789, and the mutineers acted just 23 days after leaving the sensual pleasures of Tahiti.

And now to this court, which would determine how her dream would end.

Her last visit to London, in 1990, had been so heady and different.

Headlines around the world had focused on the criminal case: pitcairn’s cloud of vice.

But a more dramatic story lay buried in the thousands of pages piled high on a table partly shielding the Privy Council lords from the commoners facing them.

That was the beginning, not the end, of the odd colony the mutineers founded.

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