A robust defence of St Helena has been posted by ex-pat blogger Paul Tyson in response to a Daily Telegraph investigation into alleged mishandling of child abuse.
In a piece titled Angry and Saddened, he says the good people in island society are being dragged down with the bad ones.
“My great sadness is the overall picture that has been painted of the island and its people,” he says: “one of sexual predation and of a dirty seedy place of the night, all of which could not be further from the truth.
“Now I am not trying to deny that wrongs were done in the past, and neither do I know whether wrongs continue now, but I do know that this article does not reflect St Helena and its people today, in 2015 at the start of a hopefully bright new era.”
Paul has attracted 1,300 online followers with his striking photographs and descriptions of local life since arriving on the island in 2014 with his teacher wife and two young children. He has enthusiastically taken on volunteer work as well as writing his blog, Two Years in the Atlantic.
He admits he has limited knowledge of the abuse crisis and cannot dispute the facts in the Telegraph’s story. But he challenges the paper’s interpretation of the facts.
He quotes one line that says: “In HM Prison Jamestown, seven out of 11 prisoners are paedophiles.”
And he comments: “To me, this could just as easily read, the authorities are now doing their best to correct this situation.”
He also writes: “A fortnight is such little time on St Helena, but clearly not enough to cast a picture of a place and its people.”
That is a familiar complaint – but two weeks is actually an unusually long time for a writer to spend on a single story, and it is rare for a journalist to spend more than a few days on the island – or to interview so many people.
Paul picks out the reporter’s descriptions of drinkers playing suggestive games at Donny’s Bar on the seafront, early on a Friday evening.
“What Tom neglects to tell anyone is that the night in question was ladies’ night, a special one off where ladies were invited to let their hair down and be a little naughty.
“Show me a hen do or ladies’ night in the UK that does not get a little saucy.”
Paul also criticises the reporter’s descriptions of weekend drinkers going from bar to bar. “Jamestown at the weekend is one of the most relaxed, enjoyable friendly nights out I have had,” he says.
“I do not contest the facts within this article, the cases that have been brought, the apparent cover-ups, the whistle-blowing stories and subsequent job losses make for very difficult reading.
“But let’s be clear, St Helena is one of the safest places I have ever visited. Its people are lovely and friendly; my children can play outdoors without fear of cars, kidnapping or indeed abuse.”
Read Paul’s blog post in full here