AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF



Application No. 12937/87
by Maureen and Duncan AMPLEFORD
against the United Kingdom


        The European Commission of Human Rights sitting in private on
8 September 1988, the following members being present:

                MM.  C.A. NØRGAARD, President
                     G. SPERDUTI
                     E. BUSUTTIL
                     G. JÖRUNDSSON
                     A.S. GÖZÜBÜYÜK
                     A. WEITZEL
                     J.C. SOYER
                     G. BATLINER
                     H. VANDENBERGHE
                Mrs.  G.H. THUNE
                Sir  Basil HALL
                MM.  F. MARTINEZ
                     C.L. ROZAKIS
                Mrs.  J. LIDDY

                Mr.  J. RAYMOND, Deputy 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 14 July 1986
by by Maureen and Duncan AMPLEFORD against the United Kingdom and
registered on 30 April 1987 under file No. 12937/87;

        Having regard to the report provided for in Rule 40 of the
Rules of Procedure of the Commission;

        Having deliberated;

        Decides as follows:

THE FACTS

        The applicants, United Kingdom citizens, are a mother and son
living in London.  They are represented before the Commission by
Messrs.  Binks Stern and Partners, solicitors of London.  The facts of
their case, as submitted by their representatives, may be summarised
as follows:

        The second applicant was born on 14 April 1975.  At the
relevant time, he attended, as a boarder, an independent school in
Sussex.

        On 2 October 1985 at about 7:30 p.m. the second applicant was
sitting with other boys doing homework in a classroom.  He was crying
because he was homesick.  The headmaster entered the room and walked
over to the second applicant's desk and shouted at him, "Shut up, shut
up".  The headmaster took hold of the boy's shirt collar and pulled
him over the desk and hit him on the bottom through his shorts with
his bare hands.  The headmaster then returned him to his seat and
shouted at him again, "Shut up, shut up".  He then hit the second
applicant over the head with the exercise book he was working from.
The headmaster sat in the room a further five minutes watching and
then left.

        On 5 October 1985 the second applicant was sitting with two
other boys watching television when the headmaster walked in and said
to him in a soft voice, "Come here".  He followed the headmaster to
the headmaster's bedroom.  Once they had both entered, the headmaster
shut the door and locked it with a bolt.  He then accused the second
applicant of copying from another boy's Latin book, which he denied.
The headmaster then said to him, "You know what's going to happen to
you, don't you?"  He replied, "Yes, sir", anticipating a beating.

        The headmaster took down the second applicant's shorts and
underpants and put him across his knee and hit him six times on his
bare bottom with his bare hand.  The other hand was placed on his
back.  Afterwards the second applicant was crying and the headmaster
said to him, "It serves you right".  The second applicant pulled up his
underpants and shorts and the headmaster sat him on his knee and for
several minutes rubbed his bottom and cuddled him.  There was a knock
at the door and the headmaster opened it and spoke to two older boys
for a few minutes.  After they had gone he told the second applicant,
"Forget about it; forget about it".

        The second applicant left the room and later showered.  Three
friends noticed the red marks on his bottom; the marks stayed for
nearly a week.

        Within a few days after the beating the second applicant wrote
to the first applicant asking her to take him away from school.  The
boy was removed from the school a few weeks later, apparently by the
end of the school term in December.

        On 12 December 1985 the second applicant made a statement to
the police and there was a subsequent police investigation involving
the interview of a number of pupils at the school.  The applicants
wrote to the Commission on 14 July 1986 stating that they intended to
lodge an application with the Commission in respect of the corporal
punishment inflicted on the second applicant.  They stated they would
do this as soon as the police confirmed that they would not be
charging the headmaster with any offence in relation to the second
applicant.  Charges were brought by the police against the headmaster
for assault but none of these charges related to any incident
involving the second applicant.  The Sussex Police wrote to the
applicants on 24 June 1986 stating that on or about 30 April 1986 the
Chief Prosecution Solicitor had decided not to proceed with charges in
connection with the boy's beating.  However the police stated in this
letter as follows:

        " ... our Counsel may wish to make use of the evidence which
        we accrued in relation to <the second applicant> when
        presenting the case at Crown Court and indeed he may make
        a decision to add further counts to the indictment.  You
        will, therefore, appreciate that we cannot say that no
        prosecution or action is being brought against <the
        headmaster> concerning <the second applicant> until after
        the final hearing when he is dealt with at Chichester
        Crown Court."

        The Headmaster's trial ended on 20 November 1986 when he was
convicted on two counts of assault, neither of which related to the
second applicant.  He was apparently sentenced to three months'
imprisonment.


COMPLAINTS

1.      The applicants allege a violation of Article 3 of the
Convention in respect of the punishment of the second applicant.  They
quote, inter alia, the cases of Campbell and Cosans (Eur.  Court H.R.,
Campbell and Cosans judgment of 25 February 1982, Series A no. 48,
p.    para. 26), in which the Court observed that "provided it is
sufficiently real and immediate, a mere threat of conduct prohibited
by Article 3 may itself be in conflict with that provision".  They
also cite the Tyrer case (Eur.  Court H.R., Tyrer judgment of 25 April
1978, Series A no. 26, p.   paras. 32 and 33), referring to the
apparent similarities of that case with the present application,
namely, the humiliation involved, the lack of medical safeguards, the
institutional character and the "aura of official procedure", the
emotional and psychological effects and the assault on both the
dignity and physical integrity of the victim.

        The applicants contend that the respondent Government are
responsible for acts which violate the Convention when they occur not
only in State schools but also in independent schools as well.

        They quote, inter alia, the Commission's Report in the Swedish
Engine Drivers' Union case (Comm.  Report 27.5.74, Eur.  Court H.R.,
Series B no 18, p. 41 para. 62), in which the Commission observed that
a State may "be obliged to protect individuals through appropriate
measures taken against some forms of interference by other
individuals, groups or organisations".

        Moreover, the applicants contend that independent schooling is
regulated by statute and the respondent Government ultimately have the
power to permit or prevent the operation of an independent school
through the registration process, and that this amounts to a broad
spectrum of legal, practical and moral responsibility for independent
schooling which cannot exclude the use of corporal punishment where it
allegedly violates the Convention.

2.      A violation of Article 8 of the Convention is alleged in
respect of the first applicant ("family life") and the second
applicant ("private and family life").

3.      The applicants also allege that they had no effective remedy,
contrary to Article 13 of the Convention.

4.      Finally they complain that as of the date of implementation of
the Education (No. 2) Act 1986, sections 47 and 48, on 15 August 1987,
children in independent schools will be afforded less protection than
their fellow school pupils in State schools against corporal
punishment, and that this difference in treatment amounts to
discrimination contrary to Article 14 of the Convention.

5.      With regard to Article 26 of the Convention, the applicants'
representatives draw the Commission's attention to the applicants'
letter dated 14 July 1986 in which the applicants stated that they
would be lodging an application once it was known categorically
whether or not the headmaster would be charged by the police with any
offence in relation to the second applicant.  The applicants submit
that the date for the purposes of Article 26 should be 20 November
1986, the date on which the trial of the headmaster, in relation to
other charges, ended.  If this date is not accepted, the applicants
contend that the relevant date should be 24 June 1986, the date when
the police decision not to bring charges in relation to the boy's
beatings was communicated to the applicants.  Whichever date is chosen,
the applicants contend that their letter of 14 July 1986 to the
Commission was within six months of the final decision.


THE LAW

        The applicants have complained that the corporal punishment of
the second applicant at an independent school on 5 October 1985
constituted degrading treatment, contrary to Article 3 (Art. 3) of the
Convention, a violation of their right to respect for family life
ensured by Article 8 (Art. 8) of the Convention, and discrimination
contrary to Article 14 (Art. 14) of the Convention, for which
complaints they had no effective domestic remedies, contrary to
Article 13 (Art. 13) of the Convention.

        However, the Commission is not required to decide whether or
not the facts alleged by the applicants disclose any appearance of a
violation of these provisions as Article 26 (Art. 26) of the
Convention provides that the Commission "may only deal with the matter
after all domestic remedies have been exhausted, according to the
generally recognised rules of international law, and within a period
of six months from the date on which the final decision was taken".
English law provides a civil court remedy for assault.  Given the
seriousness of the headmaster's conduct in the present case it would
appear that such a remedy might have proved successful, with
compensation being awarded to the applicants.  The Commission
considers, therefore, that the case could be rejected for
non-exhaustion of domestic remedies.  However, the applicants have
claimed that it would have been ineffective (cf. No. 7907/77 Mrs.  X
v. the United Kingdom, Dec. 12.7.78, D.R. 14 p. 205 at p. 210).  In
that case, assuming that the applicants' contention is correct, the
final decision for the purposes of the aforementioned six months' rule
is the date of the incident about which complaint is made (cf.  No.
5759/72, Dec. 20.5.76, D.R. 6 p. 15).  Accordingly, in the present
case the six month period runs from the date of the punishment of the
second applicant, namely 5 October 1985, or, if allowance is made for
his young age at the material time, a few days later, when apparently
the first applicant received the second applicant's letter of
complaint about the incident.  Moreover once the second applicant was
withdrawn from the school before the end of December 1985 he risked no
further punishment of this kind.  However, the application was lodged
with the Commission on 14 July 1986, more than six months after any of
these dates.  The Commission concludes, therefore, that the
application must be rejected for non-observance of the six months'
rule, pursuant to Articles 26 and 27 para. 3 (Art. 26, 27-3) of the
Convention.

        For these reasons, the Commission

        DECLARES THE APPLICATION INADMISSIBLE.



Deputy Secretary to the Commission        President of the Commission




            (J. RAYMOND)                         (C.A. NØRGAARD)