Application No. 21283/93
                    by Thomas TYLER
                    against United Kingdom

     The European Commission of Human Rights sitting in private
on 5 April 1994, the following members being present:

     MM.  C.A. NØRGAARD, President
          S. TRECHSEL
          A. WEITZEL
          F. ERMACORA
          E. BUSUTTIL
          A.S. GÖZÜBÜYÜK
          J.-C. SOYER
          H.G. SCHERMERS
          H. DANELIUS
     Mrs. G.H. THUNE
     Mrs. J. LIDDY
          J.-C. GEUS
          M.P. PELLONPÄÄ
          M.A. NOWICKI
          B. CONFORTI
          N. BRATZA
          I. BÉKÉS
          J. MUCHA
          D. SVÁBY

     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
18 November 1992 by Thomas TYLER against the United Kingdom and
registered on 27 January 1993 under file No. 21283/93;

     Having regard to the report provided for in Rule 47 of the
Rules of Procedure of the Commission;

     Having regard to :

-    report provided for in Rule 47 of the Rules of Procedure of
the  Commission;

-    the observations submitted by the respondent Government on
     3 August 1993 and the observations in reply submitted by
     the applicant on 18 August and 5 September 1993;

     Having deliberated;

     Decides as follows:


     The applicant is a citizen of the United Kingdom, born in
1939 and resident in Ipswich.

     The facts of the present case may be summarised as follows:

A.   The particular circumstances of the case

     The applicant is a priest in the Church of England.  In 1977
he was appointed incumbent of a parish in the Diocese of
Chichester, Sussex.  On 27 April 1989 he was informed that one
of his parishioners had alleged that he was committing adultery
with another parishioner.  The matter was reported, apparently
in May 1989, to the local archdeacon and on 5 June 1989, after
a meeting with the arechdeacon, found to be groundless.  A
further allegation was made concerning a second woman, but it was
also not pursued.  In February 1990, both women made complaints
against the applicant to his bishop.  On 18 March 1990 the
applicant was suspended from his duties.  On 1 May 1990 he had
a private interview with his bishop and disciplinary proceedings
against him were subsequently initiated.  An examiner heard the
evidence in September 1990 and decided that there was a case
against the applicant to be answered before the Consistory Court.

     On 20 November 1990 the Consistory Court found the applicant
guilty of five charges of adultery and deprived him of his living
by way of sentence.  His bishop decided, however, not to deprive
him of holy orders.

     The applicant appealed against the Consistory Court's
decision.  The appeal was heard by the Arches Court of Canterbury
on 4 April 1991 which ordered a retrial.  Pre-trial reviews took
place in June and July 1991.  Another Consistory Court tried the
applicant on 10 September 1991.  On 18 September 1991 he was
found guilty on two charges of adultery involving one of the
women complainants and he was deprived of his living by way of
sentence.  The Arches Court dismissed the applicant's appeal on
22 May 1992.

     The proceedings were the subject of press interest, the main
complainant having sold her story to a national newspaper for
£11,500 in December 1990, the story to be published after the
trial of the applicant if he were found guilty.

B.   The relevant domestic law and practice

     The ecclesiastical law of England is as much the law of the
land as any other part of the law.  It is grounded in both common
and statute law and is altered from time to time by statute or
by measure, a form of legislation initiated by the Church of
England but requiring Parliamentary approval.  The Ecclesiastical
Jurisdiction Measure 1963 established the present system of
ecclesiastical courts in the Church of England.  Part of the
jurisdiction of these courts involves the enforcement of clerical
discipline.  Each diocese has a Consistory Court, with the
possibility of appeal to either the Arches Court of Canterbury
or the Chancery Court of York.  The Privy Council has
jurisdiction on appeal in doctrinal matters.

     Each Consistory Court is presided over by a chancellor, a
legally qualified judge appointed by the bishop on a permanent
post.  On taking office he swears an oath of allegiance to the
Queen, and an oath that he will deal "uprightly and justly ...
without respect of favour or award".  He sits with four assessors
at the trial of a priest for any disciplinary offence.  The
assessors are chosen by ballot from panels of priests and laymen
in equal proportions.  Appointments to the assessors' panels are
made by the diocesan synod and are for a period of six years.
Assessors' functions are the same as those of a jury in the Crown
Court and their decision must be unanimous.  Five judges sit on
the Arches Court of Canterbury or the Chancery Court of York, the
president being the same person for both Courts.  He is called
the Dean of the Arches and Auditor and is a person who holds or
has held high judicial office or is a lawyer of at least 10
years' standing, appointed on a permanent post by the chairman
of the House of Laity of the General Synod, after consultation
with the Lord Chancellor.  The other four are two people in holy
orders and two laymen.  Each judge in the Arches Court takes the
same oaths as the chancellor in the Consistory Courts.

     A priest may be disciplined under Section 14 (1) of the
Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1963 for conduct unbecoming
the office and work of a clerk in holy orders by way of a
criminal suit before a Consistory Court.  The proceedings may be
initiated by a complaint to the clergyman's bishop, who decides
whether to proceed with the matter after a private interview with
the accused and the complainant.  If the matter is to be pursued,
it is referred to an examiner, selected by ballot from a panel
appointed by the diocesan synod, for an inquiry to be made.  The
parties may be assisted by friends, advisers or lawyers.
Evidence is given by affidavit or orally on oath.  If the
examiner decides that there is a case to answer it is referred
to a promoter (the prosecutor) of the complaint, on nomination
by the bishop, who in turn refers the matter to the registrar of
the Consistory Court.  This is called lodging the articles.  The
accused may submit a written reply to the Court, admitting or
denying the offence.  The trial takes place within 28 days after
the lodging of the articles.

     The rules as to the admissibility of evidence and as to the
competency or compellability of witnesses are the same as those
at a criminal trial in the Crown Court.  Any findings of guilt
and the censure (the sentence) must be set out in a written
judgment and pronounced in open court.

     An appeal on law and/or fact from the Consistory Court to
the Arches Court of Canterbury or the Chancery Court of York must
be made within 28 days of the Consistory Court's decision.  The
two appeal courts, deciding by majority opinion, have power to
review the evidence, confirm, reverse or vary any decision of the
Consistory Court, or remit the case for further proceedings
before the latter court.

     The censures which may be pronounced against an accused
found guilty of an offence under the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction
Measure 1963 are deprivation, inhibition, suspension, monition
and rebuke.  A censure of deprivation may be followed by the
extra-judicial act of deposition from holy orders.  A censure of
deprivation is the removal

of the person from the office he holds and his disqualification
from holding such office in the future.


     The applicant complains that he is the victim of a violation
of Article 6 paras. 1 and 2 of the Convention.

     He alleges that the press coverage of his case prevented a
fair hearing and that the proceedings did not take place within
a reasonable time, delays largely being due to the prosecution.

     The applicant claims that he was not heard by an independent
and impartial tribunal.  He states, inter alia, that there was
no substantial or corroborative evidence against him, that the
proceedings and structure of the ecclesiastical courts in his
case defy any notion of independence or impartiality, given the
involvement of the bishop and the Diocese of Chichester to whom
the original complaints had been made, alleged collusion between
the prosecution and the diocesan officers, the presence of
clergymen on the court panels, and the all pervading influence
of the Church of England, which was the only source of legal aid,
tardily awarded.  He contends that the Church of England has been
prosecution, judge and jury in the proceedings against him, in
breach of Article 6 para. 1 of the Convention.

     As regards the second paragraph of Article 6, he refers,
inter alia, to an alleged lack of evidence against him, the
unimpeachable testimony of defence witnesses, the adverse
publicity surrounding the proceedings and the absence of any
convictions of any kind throughout his life.


     The application was introduced on 18 November 1992 and
registered on 27 January 1993.

     The Commission invited the parties to submit written
observations on admissibility and merits on 3 May 1993.  The
Government's observations were submitted on 3 August 1993.  The
applicant replied on 18 August 1993, and submitted further
comments on 5 September 1993.


1.   The applicant alleges that the courts which dealt with his
case were not independent and impartial within the meaning of
Article 6
(Art. 6) of the Convention, and that this provision has thereby
been breached.  Article 6 (Art. 6) of the Convention provides,
so far as relevant, as follows:

     "1.  In the determination of his civil rights and
     obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone
     is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a
     reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal
     established by law. ...

     2.   Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be
     presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law."

     The Government submit that in respect of this complaint the
applicant has not exhausted domestic remedies in that he did not
put his complaint concerning the Consistory Court to the Court
of Arches.  The applicant points out that he regards both the
Consistory Court and the Court of Arches as lacking in
independence and impartiality, and that it is impossible to
appeal to a court that has just rejected an appeal on the grounds
that that same court is lacking in impartiality.

     The Commission notes that the applicant's complaint as to
the independence and impartiality of the tribunals which dealt
with his case is that their composition was in violation of the
Convention.  He does not suggest that they were in contravention
of domestic law.  Accordingly, given an applicant's inability to
invoke the Convention directly in the courts in the United
Kingdom, and in the absence of any authority cited by the
Government to show that the applicant could otherwise have
challenged the domestically lawful composition of the Consistory
Court before the Court of Arches, the Commission finds that the
applicant was not required to allege structural lack of
impartiality or independence to the latter tribunal.  The
Commission therefore rejects the Government's submissions as to
exhaustion of domestic remedies.

     The Commission must next determine whether the proceedings
involving the applicant determined a "criminal charge" against
the applicant, whether they determined his "civil rights and
obligations", or whether they fell outside either of these

     As to the question of whether the proceedings determined a
"criminal charge", the Government submit that the criteria first
set out in the Engel case (Eur. Court H.R., Engel judgment of 23
November 1976, Series A no. 22) indicate that the proceedings
were not "criminal".  The applicant points out that the
ecclesiastical courts are modelled on criminal courts, that the
burden of proof is that used in criminal courts, that the church
employed a barrister to "prosecute" the case who specialises in
criminal law, and that the sentence has caused him considerable
financial hardship.

     The Commission notes that ecclesiastical law in the United
Kingdom describes proceedings for conduct unbecoming a priest as
a "criminal suit", and further notes that ecclesiastical law is
a fully integrated part of ordinary domestic law.  However, the
definition of an offence in the internal legal system is only one
criterion in determining whether proceedings determine criminal
charges, and is not decisive (cf. Eur. Court H.R., Demicoli
judgment of 27 August 1991, Series A no. 210, p. 15, para. 31).

     Of greater importance in assessing the applicability of the
term "criminal charge" in a particular case are the criteria of
the "very nature of the offence" and the "degree of severity of
the penalty that the person concerned risks incurring" (above-
mentioned Demicoli judgment, pp. 16, 17, paras. 33, 34).  The
Commission recalls that "[d]isciplinary sanctions are generally
designed to ensure that members of particular groups comply with
the specific rules governing their conduct" (Eur. Court H.R.,
Weber judgment of 22 May 1990, Series A no 177, p. 18, para. 33).
The Commission considers that the charge of "conduct unbecoming
a priest" is not inherently criminal in nature.  The specific
charge in the present case, adultery, is one of behaviour which
commonly is not criminal in member states of the Council of
Europe.  It is rather within the category of disciplinary matters
generally designed to ensure that the members of particular
groups, in the present case clergy in the Church of England,
comply with the specific rules governing their conduct.  Finally
in this respect, the Commission finds that although the applicant
undoubtedly suffered financial loss as a result of the "sentence"
in his case, that loss was not itself the penalty.  Rather, the
loss was the indirect result of the penalty of "deprivation".

     The Commission finds that the proceedings in which the
applicant was involved did not determine a "criminal charge"
within the meaning of Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of the

     As to the question whether the proceedings against the
applicant determined  "civil rights and obligations", the
Government submit that the applicant's functions as a priest are
more in the nature of public service than they are private
professional practice.  Pointing to Commission case-law to the
effect that Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of the Convention does
not apply to disputes concerning the dismissal of civil servants
(eg, No. 10878/84, Dec. 4.12.84, D.R. 41, p. 247), they consider
that, although the applicant was not a State employee, he did not
exercise a private right to continue his work as a priest and
that the ecclesiastical proceedings did not therefore determine
his "civil rights".  The applicant considers that the requirement
to leave his house, and a request that he leave his parish,
constituted a determination of his civil rights.  He also submits
that a person ordained as a priest has a civil right to exercise
his priestly ministry within the Church.

     The Commission notes that the Church of England is
structurally a separate entity from the State, although there is
some overlapping of functions because of the Church's
traditionally close links with the State.  Thus bishops
participate in the legislative process and the monarch is also
temporal head of the Church.  The Commission next notes that the
effect of the applicant's deprivation was to prevent him from
continuing to act as a priest within the Church of England.
Whilst he was not deprived of holy orders, as a direct
consequence of the deprivation he lost his income, his pension
rights, and the free accommodation which he had enjoyed until
then.  The Commission is not, however, required to decide whether
the proceedings in the present case determined the applicant's
civil rights within the meaning of Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1)
of the Convention, as, even if they did, the application is in
any event manifestly ill-founded for the following reasons.

     The Commission must ascertain whether the proceedings were
held before an "independent and impartial tribunal" within the
meaning of Article 6 (Art. 6) of the Convention.

     Before the Consistory Court the proceedings were determined
by the chancellor of the diocese sitting with four assessors.
The Government submit that the diocesan chancellor is always a
qualified and experienced lawyer, that his appointment, by the
bishop, is permanent, and that he may only be removed in
exceptional circumstances.  The applicant underlines that the
chancellor is appointed by the bishop, and considers that the
Consistory Court is not independent of the Church of England, as
it should be.  He also points 
out that the Government fail to consider the position of the
assessors, who are drawn from a very small group of people all
of whom are drawn
from the diocesan Synod, and so cannot be expected to be
impartial in the first place.

     The Commission finds it appropriate for a tribunal dealing
with what are essentially disciplinary matters to have some
participation from the body concerned.  In the present case the
diocesan chancellor was appointed by the bishop, but he had
permanent tenure and was required to be a lawyer of at least 7
years' standing.  In the absence of specific allegations of bias,
mere appointment by the equivalent of an executive organ cannot
be seen to impeach the independence of the chancellor (cf., for
example, Eur. Court H.R., Sramek judgment of 22 October 1984,
Series A no. 84, p. 18, para. 38).  The Commission notes that the
chancellor is required to take an oath of independence which acts
as a guarantee of a certain degree of independence from the body
nominating him (cf. Eur. Court H.R., Ettl judgment of 23 April
1987, Series A no. 117, p. 18, para. 38).  The applicant has not
alleged that any of the judges in the case actually took
instructions or was actually biased.

     Whilst it is true that the chancellor sat with four
assessors, and that two of the assessors were clergy and two were
laymen, the Commission finds that there are no specific reasons
in the present case to assume that the assessors, whose role is
similar to that of a jury, were in any way partial or not
independent.  The position is different from that where certain
members of the jury have declared political affiliations in cases
concerning subjective matters of defamation and where there are
connections between the jurors and the other party (cf. Eur.
Court H.R., Holm judgment of 25 November 1993, Series A no. 279-
A).  In particular, the fact that members of the disciplining
body participate in the exercise of disciplinary jurisdiction
over other members cannot suffice to bear out a charge of bias,
even where Article 6 (Art. 6) is applicable (cf, Eur. Court
H.R,., Le Compte, Van Leuven and De Meyere judgment of 23 June
1981, Series A no. 43, p. 25, para. 58).  As the Court there
pointed out, personal impartiality is to be presumed until there
is proof to the contrary.

     The Commission finds that the Consistory Court complied with
the requirements of Article 6 (Art. 6) of the Convention as to
independence and impartiality.

     The Commission next turns to the Court of Arches.  The Dean
of the Arches is a person who holds or has held high judicial
office.  The other four members comprise two clergymen and two
laymen.  Each of the five is appointed permanently, and each
takes an oath of independence.

     The Commission, for reasons similar to those pertaining to
the Consistory Court, finds that the Court of Arches also
complied with the requirements of Article 6 (Art. 6) as to
independence and impartiality.

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

2.   The applicant also alleges violation of Article 6 (Art. 6)
of the Convention in other respects.  In particular, he alleges
violation of Article 6 para. 2 (Art. 6-2) of the Convention.

     Insofar as the applicant's further complaints relate to
criminal proceedings, the Commission recalls that it has found
that the proceedings involving the applicant did not determine
a criminal charge within the meaning of Article 6 (Art. 6) of the
Convention. To this extent, therefore, the Commission cannot deal
with the applicant's complaints.

     With regard to the judicial decisions in the case, the
Commission recalls that, in accordance with Article 19 (Art. 19)
of the Convention, its only task is to ensure the observance of
the obligations undertaken by the Parties to the Convention.  In
particular, it is not competent to deal with an application
alleging that errors of law or fact have been committed by
domestic courts, except where it considers that such errors might
have involved a possible violation of any of the rights and
freedoms set out in the Convention.  The Commission refers, on
this point, to its constant case-law (see e.g. No. 458/59, Dec.
29.3.60, Yearbook 3 pp. 222, 236 ; No. 5258/71, Dec. 8.2.73,
Collection 43 pp. 71, 77 ; No. 7987/77, Dec. 13.12.79, D.R. 18
pp. 31, 45).

     To the extent that the Commission is nevertheless able to
consider the applicant's complaints under Article 6 para. 1
(Art. 6-1) of the Convention, it recalls that the proceedings,
which it has found to have been civil in character, lasted from
approximately May 1989 to May 1992, that is a total of three
years.  Having regard to the fact that the proceedings were
repeated, and to the criteria established by case-law and having
regard to all the information in its possession, the Commission
finds that the length of the proceedings complained of did not
exceed the "reasonable time" referred to in Article 6 para. 1
(Art. 6-1) of the Convention.

     To the extent that the applicant complains about prejudicial
press coverage of the case, the Commission notes that the
applicant has not submitted any evidence as to the nature of the
reporting of the events, nor has he shown that that coverage
affected the fairness of the trial in any way.  In particular,
although it is true that the applicant alleges that the principal
witness for the Church sold her story to a national newspaper,
he has not shown what, if any, impact that had on the

     The Commission concludes that the remainder of the
application is manifestly ill-founded, within the meaning of
Article 27 para. 2
(Art. 27-2) of the Convention.

     For these reasons, the Commission, by a majority,


Secretary to the Commission            President of the

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