AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

                  Application No. 11392/85
                  by Raymond HODGSON
                  against the United Kingdom


        The European Commission of Human Rights sitting in private
on 4 March 1987,  the following members being present:


              MM. C. A. NØRGAARD, President
                  G. SPERDUTI
                  J. A. FROWEIN
                  E. BUSUTTIL
                  G. JÖRUNDSSON
                  S. TRECHSEL
                  B. KIERNAN
                  A. S. GÖZÜBÜYÜK
                  A. WEITZEL
                  J. C. SOYER
                  H. G. SCHERMERS
                  H. DANELIUS
                  H. VANDENBERGHE
                  F. MARTINEZ

              Mr.  H. C. KRÜGER Secretary to the Commission

        Having regard to Article 25 of the Convention for the
Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

        Having regard to the application introduced on 15 October 1984
by Raymond HODGSON against the United Kingdom and registered on
12 February 1985 under file N° 11392/85;

        Having regard to

-       reports provided for in Rule 40 of the Rules of Procedure
of the Commission;

-       the Commission's decision of 16 May 1985 to bring the
application to the notice of the respondent Government and invite them
to submit written observations on its admissibility and merits;

-       the information provided by the Government on
12 September 1985;

-       the applicant's response to that information on
9 October 1985;

-       the Commission's decision of 4 March 1986 to maintain its
invitation to the parties to submit written observations on
admissibility and merits;

-       the Government's observations of 9 May 1986;

-       the applicant's observations in reply on 26 June 1986;

        Having deliberated;

        Decides as follows:




THE FACTS

        The applicant is a citizen of the United Kingdom, born in 1952
and detained in H.M. Prison Peterhead, Scotland, where he is serving a
ten year prison sentence.

        This is his second application to the Commission.  His first,
Application No. 10779/84, complaining of his trial, conviction and
legal representation, was declared inadmissible as being manifestly
ill-founded (Article 27 para. 2 of the Convention) on 16 March 1984.

        The present application concerns the censorship of the
applicant's correspondence.  The facts of the case may be summarised
as follows:

        The applicant was convicted of various sexual offences on
19 January 1982.  His appeal was heard on 2 December 1982 when it was
rejected.  Despite the fact that he had no further proceedings
outstanding or any possibility of initiating such proceedings, the
applicant wrote on several occasions to the High Court of Justiciary,
Justiciary Office, Edinburgh between 1982 and 1984 concerning his
trial and appeal.  On 13 August 1984 the Justiciary Office provided
certain information and requested the applicant to state the purpose
of any further requests for information so that the Office could
determine what priority should be given to any future replies.  The
applicant claims that for the first time he was provided with
essential information in that letter regarding his appeal.  On
15 August 1984 the applicant wrote again to the Justiciary Office but
his letter was ignored.  Instead the Deputy Principal Clerk of
Justiciary wrote to the applicant's Prison Governor on 23 August 1984
in the following terms:

        "I am instructed to ask you to call the above named prisoner
        before you in order to inform him that Lords Commissioners
        of Justiciary do not enter into correspondence with prisoners
        in relation to the cases which have been brought before them
        as the presiding judge at a Court of First Instance or as a
        Judge of Appeal.  I refer, of course, to the latest series of
        letters which this man has been allowed to write from prison,
        copies of which I enclose herewith.

        As all reasonable requests for relevant information have now
        been met, Hodgson should be informed that his request to
        forward a letter to Mr McNish has been refused as has his
        demand for the home address of Mr McNish.  It is not the
        policy of the Court to allow correspondence between prisoners
        and retired Officers of Court in relation to matters which
        have arisen in the course of that officer's official duties.
        Finally, I have to ask you not to allow this man to write
        again to this office.  He should be reminded, yet again,
        that the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeal on
        2 December 1982 is, in terms of Section 262 of the Criminal
        Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975, final and conclusive and not
        subject to review by any Court whatsoever."

        Thereupon, after showing the applicant a copy of this letter,
the Prison Governor prohibited the applicant's correspondence to the
High Court, pursuant to Rule 74 (1) and (4) of the Prison (Scotland)
Rules 1952 and the relevant Standing Orders (MA 4 (2)) which provide:

        "74.- (1) Communications between prisoners and their relatives
        and friends shall be allowed in accordance with the following
        provisions, subject to such restrictions as may be laid down
        by the Secretary of State with a view to the maintenance of
        discipline and order and the prevention of crime, and no other
        person shall be allowed to communicate with a prisoner without
        the authority of the Secretary of State ....

          (4) Subject to the provisions of Rule 50 (4) every letter to
        or from a prisoner shall be read by the Governor or by an
        officer deputed by him for that purpose and it shall be within
        the discretion of the Governor to stop any letter if he
        considers that the contents are objectionable."

        MA 4 (2): "If the recipient of correspondence from an inmate
        requests in writing to the prison authorities that further
        letters should not be sent, the inmate should be informed of
        the request, asked to co-operate by not writing and given the
        opportunity to discuss the matter with a member of staff.  If
        the inmate then hands out a further letter for posting, the
        Governor may, at his discretion, give effect to the
        recipient's wishes and inform the inmate that his letter will
        not be sent.  However correspondence between husbands and
        wives should not be stopped other than on the order of a
        court."

        On 29 October 1984 the applicant contested the Prison
Governor's decision by way of a petition to the Secretary of State for
Scotland.  On 26 March 1985 the Scottish Home and Health Department
informed the applicant that his request to write directly to the High
Court of Justiciary was refused, but that, if he wished, he could
request his solicitor to raise his complaint directly with the court.
The applicant in the meantime had taken an equivalent step to this
latter proposal by complaining to the Lord Chancellor about the Lord
Justice Clerk and Justiciary Office.  His complaint was referred to
the Scottish Courts Administration, which office informed the
applicant on 22 April 1985 that, given his pending proceedings before
the Commission, it would be inappropriate for them to comment.

        In reply to a further petition (dated 10 June 1985) to the
Secretary of State for Scotland requesting clarification of the
Justiciary Office letter of 23 August 1984, the Scottish Home and
Health Department stated (Petition reply dated 5 June 1985) that the
High Court of Justiciary had been consulted, but believed no further
clarification was necessary.  The applicant was again advised that he
could have access to the Justiciary Office through his solicitor.

        The applicant claims that he wished for further information
from the Justiciary Office in order to institute proceedings for
damages and a possible private criminal prosecution against his former
agent and defence solicitor.

COMPLAINTS

        The applicant complains that his correspondence to the High
Court of Justiciary was unlawfully prohibited.  He originally invoked
Articles 6 para. 1 and 8 of the Convention, but in subsequent
submissions he has emphasised the Article 8 aspect of his complaint.

PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION

        The application was communicated to the Government on 10 May
1985 and, after an extension of the time limit for submission of
observations, the Government, in a letter dated 12 September 1985,
proposed amending Standing Order MA 4 (2) by the addition, at the end
of the paragraph, of the following words:

        "This paragraph does not apply to correspondence with a
        court (including a named judge) or any public authority."

        The amendment was circulated to the governors/wardens of all
prisons in Scotland by the Scottish Home and Health Department.

        The applicant replied, in a letter dated 9 October 1985, that
he did not consider the amendment sufficient compensation, and that he
was not prepared to agree to the withdrawal of his application until
such time as the restrictions on his right to correspond with anyone
he wishes are removed.

        On 4 March 1986 the Commission decided that the parties'
written observations on admissibility and merits were still required.
The Government submitted such observations on 9 May 1986, to which the
applicant replied on 26 June 1986.


SUBMISSIONS OF THE PARTIES


        The Government

        Part I - The facts

        The Government points out that the applicant wrote to the
Justiciary Office on numerous occasions between 1982 and 1984.  By
August 1984 that Office considered that it had given all the
information that could reasonably be given.  Hence the "informal
request" to stop further correspondence in the Clerk's letter of
23 August 1984 to the Prison Governor.  It was the intention of that
Office not to have stopped all correspondence, but only that
concerning his conviction, sentence and appeal.  However the letter in
question did not make this clear.  The Prison Governor instructed the
prison censors to stop all the applicant's mail to the Justiciary
Office, pursuant to Standing Order MA 4 (2).

        The applicant has not had any proceedings before the High
Court of Justiciary or Court of Criminal Appeal and he was not seeking
to initiate such proceedings.  This would not be the competent
jurisdiction for the applicant's intended proceedings against his
defence solicitor.

        The restriction on the applicant's writing to the High Court
of Justiciary was lifted on 12 September 1985.  By a circular letter
dated 16 October 1985, Standing Order MA 4 (2) was amended to exclude
the stopping of correspondence with courts or other public
authorities.

        Part II - Relevant domestic law and practice

        The Court Clerk's request to the Prison Governor was of an
informal nature, not being based on any rule of law and it did not
have any legal effect.  The Court's Office normally replies to
reasonable requests for information, there being no written
administrative practice regulating its correspondence.  Judges do not
enter into correspondence with convicted persons.

        Prison Governors have delegated censorship powers, deriving
from the Prisons (Scotland) Act 1952 and the Prison (Scotland) Rules
1952.  These powers are exercised in accordance with administrative
instructions contained in Prisons (Scotland) Standing Orders.
Standing Order MA 4 (2) makes provision for the stopping of letters at
the request of the recipient (see Rule 74 (1) and (4) Prison
(Scotland) Rules 1952 and MA 4 (2) set out in THE FACTS p. 4 above).
It was in pursuance of this Standing Order that the Prison Governor
stopped the applicant's correspondence with the High Court of
Justiciary, which order has now been amended to exclude correspondence
with court or other public authorities.

        Pursuant to the case of Raymond v.  Honey (1982) 1 All E.R.
756, it is clear that under English law Prison Governors have no
authority to prevent prisoners' access to court in respect of the
initiation or conduct of proceedings.  Scottish law would be similar
in this respect, although there is little specifically about access to
court in the Prison (Scotland) Rules.  The Scottish Standing Orders,
however, make it clear that prisoners are to have all necessary access
to court.


        Part III - Admissibility and merits

        In the Government's submission, in view of the lifting of the
restriction of his correspondence and the amended Standing Order, the
applicant can no longer claim to be a victim of a violation of the
Convention within the meaning of Article 25 of the Convention.

        It contends that the amended Standing Order is compatible with
the right to respect for correspondence ensured by Article 8 of the
Convention.

        In so far as the applicant alleges denial of access to court
the Government notes that this did not occur in the applicant's case.
He was not seeking access to the civil courts and the criminal
proceedings against him had been definitively terminated by the High
Court of Justiciary, sitting as an appeal court, on 2 December 1982.
The Convention does not guarantee a right to initiate private criminal
proceedings.  No denial of access to court was intended by the
Justiciary Office or the prison authorities.  If the applicant had
intended to institute legal proceedings and his correspondence thereon
censored, he would have had a domestic remedy by way of an application
to commit the Prison Governor for contempt of court (cf.
aforementioned Raymond and Honey case).

        Part IV - Conclusions

        The Government concludes that the application is

        (a) inadmissible on the ground that the applicant is not a
victim of a breach of the Convention or, alternatively,

        (b)  inadmissible under Articles 6 and 8 as being manifestly
ill-founded.

        As a further alternative, it is submitted that there has been
no breach of the Convention.


        The applicant

        The applicant claims to have needed information from the
Justiciary Office about his former solicitor or agent, in order to
prosecute an action for damages and a possible private criminal
prosecution against him.

        The applicant does not accept that the restriction on his
correspondence has been lifted by Standing Order MA 4 (2) amended,
because the copy of the order which was supplied to him in May 1986
remains unchanged.  In any event Standing Orders are mere guidelines
which are not binding upon the prison authorities.  He thereby claims
to remain a victim of a breach of the Convention.

        The applicant contends that MA 4 (2) is unnecessary as it
short circuits the recipient's right to have a court order or
injunction forbidding further correspondence.  There is no appeal
against an arbitrary decision by a Prison Governor to stop
correspondence.

        The applicant accepts that he was not denied access to court,
except in so far as he was requesting information to enable him to
take action against his previous agent.  He contests the jurisdiction
and availability of contempt proceedings for a denial of access to
court.

        Conclusion

        The applicant concludes that he is a victim of a violation of
the Convention, that the Government's submissions are unfounded, that
Standing Order MA 4 (2), in its original or amended form, is
unnecessary and unjustifiable, and that the only restrictions on his
correspondence should be those relating to general correspondence, as
laid down in Standing Order MA 7.



THE LAW

1.      The applicant complains of the prohibition on his correspondence
to the High Court of Justiciary from August 1984 until 12 September
1985.  His principal complaint is that he is a victim of a violation of Article
8 (Art. 8) of the Convention, the relevant part of which provides as follows:

        "1.  Everyone has the right to respect for .... his
        correspondence.

        2.  There shall be no interference by a public authority
        with the exercise of this right except such as is in
        accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic
        society in the interests of national security, public
        safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the
        prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health
        or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms
        of others."

        He originally complained of a breach of Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of
the Convention which provides, inter alia, for a fair hearing in the
determination of a person's civil rights and obligations or any
criminal charge against him.  An inherent aspect of this right is that
of access to court (Eur.  Court H.R. Golder judgment of 21 February
1975 Series A Vol. 18 para. 36).  However, the applicant accepted in
his written observations on admissibility and merits that he was not
actually denied access to court, although he had wished to seek
certain information from the High Court of Justiciary which might have
been of assistance in a possible action against his former solicitor
or agent.

2.      The Government has submitted that, in view of the lifting of
the contested restriction on 12 September 1985 and the amendment to
Standing Order MA 4 (2) preventing the recurrence of such censorship,
the applicant may no longer claim to be a victim of a breach of the
Convention within the meaning of Article 25 (Art. 25).

3.      The Commission recalls previous case-law in which it has held
that where there is a change in legislation or an effective resolution
of the factual basis of an application during the course of
proceedings before the Commission, the applicant may, in certain
circumstances, no longer claim to be a victim of a violation of the
Convention (No. 7658/76, Dec. 5.12.78, D.R. 15 p. 128 and No. 9435/81,
Dec. 11.5.82 unpublished).

        The Commission notes that the applicant was able to write
several letters to the High Court of Justiciary prior to the
prohibition in August 1984.  Between August 1984 and June 1985 the
prohibition was under review before the Secretary of State for
Scotland and the Scottish Courts Administration.  Throughout the
prohibition the applicant was not actually denied access to court in
respect of civil proceedings, or any criminal proceedings against him,
and his solicitor could have obtained any information the applicant
required from the High Court of Justiciary on his behalf.  The
contested restriction was lifted on 12 September 1985 and the
offending Standing Order amended soon after.  In these circumstances,
the Commission finds that the applicant can no longer claim to be a
victim of a violation of the Convention, within the meaning of
Article 25 (Art. 25) of the Convention.

        It follows that the application is now manifestly ill-founded,
within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the Convention.


        For these reasons, the Commission

        DECLARES THE APPLICATION INADMISSIBLE,



Secretary to the Commission           President of the Commission




      (H.C. KRÜGER)                            (C.A. NØRGAARD)