Application No. 23452/94
                      by Mulkiye OSMAN and Ahmet OSMAN
                      against the United Kingdom

     The European Commission of Human Rights sitting in private on
17 May 1996, the following members being present:

           MM.   S. TRECHSEL, President
                 H. DANELIUS
                 C.L. ROZAKIS
                 E. BUSUTTIL
                 A. WEITZEL
                 H.G. SCHERMERS
           Mrs.  G.H. THUNE
           Mrs.  J. LIDDY
           MM.   L. LOUCAIDES
                 J.-C. GEUS
                 M.P. PELLONPÄÄ
                 B. MARXER
                 M.A. NOWICKI
                 I. CABRAL BARRETO
                 B. CONFORTI
                 N. BRATZA
                 I. BÉKÉS
                 P. LORENZEN
                 K. HERNDL

           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 10 November 1993
by Mulkiye OSMAN and Ahmet OSMAN against the United Kingdom and
registered on 14 February 1994 under file No. 23452/94;

     Having regard to:

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

-    the observations submitted by the respondent Government on
     31 January 1995 and the observations in reply submitted by the
     applicants on 7 June 1995;

-    the parties' written observations of 3 May 1996 and oral
     submissions at the hearing of 17 May 1996;

     Having deliberated;

     Decides as follows:


     The applicants, British citizens, are represented before the
Commission by Mr. Ben Emmerson, counsel, and Ms. Nuala Mole, a
solicitor at the Aire Centre, London. The first applicant, Mulkiye
Osman, born in 1948, and the second applicant, Ahmet Osman, her son
born in 1972, are resident in London.

a.   The particular circumstances of the case

     The facts as submitted by the parties may be summarised as

     In 1987, Ahmet Osman, the second applicant, then 14 years old,
was a pupil at Homerton House School, Hackney, London. Paul Paget-Lewis
was employed as a teacher at the school.

     The mother of another boy at the school and neighbour to the
applicants complained to the Deputy Head Master of the school that
Paget-Lewis was falsely accusing her son, Leslie Green, of deviant
sexual practices and spreading rumours to that effect. Paget-Lewis had
followed Leslie home from school on occasion.

     The Deputy Head interviewed Leslie Green and Ahmet Osman, while
on 3 March 1987 the Head Master of the school informed the police at
Hackney Police Station. It emerged that Paget-Lewis had developed an
attachment to Ahmet and, jealous, was attempting to sever Ahmet's
friendship with Leslie. Paget-Lewis had also given Ahmet money and a
pen and taken photographs of him.

     It also appeared that Paget-Lewis had locked Ahmet into the
classroom with him during meal breaks on the pretext of asking the boy
to teach him Turkish. He on occasion followed Ahmet home in his car.
The applicants state that this information was passed on to the police
on or about 9 March 1987. The Government state that the police officer
concerned has no recollection that he was told about the presents or
that Paget-Lewis had followed Ahmet home. The Government state that all
concerned were satisfied that there was no sexual element to Paget-
Lewis' attachment to Ahmet and the matter was left to be dealt with
internally by the school.

     On 13 March 1987, the Head Master interviewed Paget-Lewis and
informed the police.

     The Head Master was informed on 16 March 1987 that Paget-Lewis
had been spying on Ahmet and had told Leslie that he knew where Ali
Osman, Ahmet's father, worked and could find Ahmet even if he left the

     The Head Master met with Ahmet and his parents, and it was agreed
in principle, on 17 March 1987, that Ahmet should be transferred to
another school.

     In or about April 1987, graffiti appeared near the school
referring to Ahmet's alleged sexual relationship with Leslie Green.
Paget-Lewis denied that he was responsible.

     While attempting to transfer Ahmet elsewhere, it was discovered
that the files relating to him and Leslie Green had been stolen from
the school office.

     On 14 April 1987, Paget-Lewis changed his name by deed-poll to
Paul Ahmet Yildirim Osman. The applicants state that the Head Master
informed the police of this and preceding incidents on or about 4 May
1987. The applicants allege that by this stage the police considered
that Paget-Lewis posed a serious threat to the safety of Ahmet and
advised the ILEA (the Inner London Education Authority) that Ahmet's
father, Ali Osman (husband of the first applicant), should be warned.
The applicants state that the police requested that they be informed
if Ahmet should go missing for more than an hour and that they informed
ILEA that they intended to search Paget-Lewis' home for the missing
files. The Government state that, having considered the information
passed to them, the police did not believe that Paget-Lewis posed a
serious threat to the safety of Ahmet. They deny that the police asked
ILEA to inform them if Ahmet went missing or that they intended to
search Paget-Lewis' home.

     On 19 May 1987, Paget-Lewis was seen by Dr. Ferguson, the ILEA
psychiatrist, who reported: "This teacher must indeed give cause for
concern. He does not present ill in formal terms, nor does he seem
sexually deviant. He does have personality problems, and his judgment
regarding his friendship with a pupil is reprehensibly suspect." Dr.
Ferguson recommended that Paget-Lewis remain teaching at the school but
that he should receive some form of psychotherapy.

     On or about 21 May 1987, a brick was thrown through a window of
the applicants' house. The police were informed.

     On two occasions in June 1987, the tyres of Ali Osman's car were
deliberately burst. The police were informed.

     On 16 June 1987, following a further interview with Paget-Lewis,
Dr. Ferguson recommended that Paget-Lewis should no longer teach at the
school and that transfer on medical grounds was strongly and urgently

     On 18 June 1987, Paget-Lewis was suspended pending an ILEA

     On 7 August 1987, ILEA sent a letter to Paget-Lewis officially
reprimanding him but lifting the suspension.

     In or about August-September 1987, a mixture of engine oil and
paraffin was poured on or near the applicants' doorstep. This was
reported to the police.

     In September 1987, Paget-Lewis resumed teaching at a different

     On or about 18 October 1987, the windscreen of Ali Osman's car
was smashed. In late October/early November 1987, in a series of
incidents,  the applicants' front door lock was jammed with superglue,
dog excrement was smeared on their doorstep and on their car and the
light bulb stolen from their porch.

     A police officer in October-December 1987 was in contact with
Paget-Lewis regarding the acts of vandalism. In later statements to the
police, Paget-Lewis stated that he telephoned the officer on at least
one occasion leaving his number but his call was not returned.  He also
alleges that he told the police officer on one occasion that the loss
of his job was so distressing that he felt that he was in danger of
doing something criminally insane. The Government deny that this was

     On 7 December 1987, Paget-Lewis drove his car in such a manner
that it collided with  a van in which Leslie Green was a passenger. The
police arrived and cautioned him, issuing a form requesting him to
produce his driving documents.

     On 8 December the police contacted the ILEA stating that they
wished to interview Paget-Lewis and the Head Master. The applicants
state that the police assured the ILEA that Ahmet's family would be
protected. The Government deny that such an assurance was given.

     On 9 December 1987, the police interviewed Leslie Green and his

     On 10 December 1987, Paget-Lewis attended the police station and
produced his driving documents. He failed to produce a road worthiness
(MOT) certificate for his car and was cautioned in relation to that.

     On 14 December 1987, the police took photographs of the graffiti
near the school.

     On 15 December 1987, Paget-Lewis was interviewed by officers of
the ILEA at his own request. One officer recalled that Paget-Lewis
spoke in a manner which was very disturbing, said that he knew where
the Deputy Head Master lived and that he was going to do something
though not at the school. The other officer recalled that Paget-Lewis
had stated that he was going to do something that would be "a sort of
Hungerford" (an incident where a man ran amok through the town with an
arsenal of weapons, killing and injuring numerous people). The
applicants state that content of the interview was passed on to the
police. The Government deny that mention was made of the "Hungerford"
reference or that there was any suggestion that the Osmans might be in
danger. However, the police sent a telex to the local police station
near the Deputy Head Master's home referring to the fact that vague
threats had been made and that the school authorities were very
concerned and asked that the local police pay casual attention to the

     On 16 December 1987, the police contacted the ILEA with a view
to tracing Paget-Lewis and were provided with his address. The police
officer asked the official at ILEA to ask Paget-Lewis to contact him.
On the same day, a police officer met with the Head Master and his
Deputy. The applicants state that the police officer assured the Head
Master that they would undertake the necessary measures to protect his
Deputy (against whom threats had been made) and the applicants.
According to the Government, the police officer received the impression
from his meetings with the Head Master and Deputy that Paget-Lewis was
angry at being removed from the school but that the anger was directed
against the Deputy. The Deputy however informed the police officer that
he did not feel in any danger.

     On 17 December 1987, the police arrived at Paget-Lewis' house
with the intention of arresting him on suspicion of criminal damage.
Paget-Lewis was absent. The police were unaware that he was at that
time teaching at school.

     On 18 December 1987, the ILEA informed the police that Paget-
Lewis had not attended school.

     On 22 December 1987, the police took a statement from the driver
of the van which had been rammed by Paget-Lewis. He recalled that
Paget-Lewis had been unconcerned by the incident stating that in a few
months he would be serving life imprisonment.

     In or about early January 1988, the police commenced the
procedure of laying an information before the magistrates' court with
a view to prosecuting Paget-Lewis for driving without due care and

     In January 1988, Paget-Lewis was put on the Police National
Computer as being wanted in relation to the collision incident and on
suspicion of having committed offences of criminal damage.

     Between January and March 1988, Paget-Lewis travelled around in
England hiring cars in his adopted name of Osman and being involved in
a number of accidents. He spent time at his home address during this
period and continued to receive mail there.

     On 17 January 1988, Paget-Lewis broke into 3 cars at a clay-
pigeon shoot and stole a shotgun. He sawed off both barrels. While the
theft was reported to the local police, there was nothing to connect
the incident to Paget-Lewis and it did not come to the attention of the
Metropolitan police dealing with the case.

     On 1, 4 and 5 March 1988, Leslie Green saw Paget-Lewis in a black
crash helmet near the applicants' home. According to the applicants,
Mrs. Green informed the police on each occasion, but the police officer
dealing with the case did not return her call. The Government accept
that, on 5 March 1988, the police officer received a message which
stated "phone Mrs. Green" but there was no phone number on the note and
he did not connect the message with the mother of Leslie Green.

     On 7 March 1988, Paget-Lewis was seen near the applicants' home
by a number of people. At about 23.00, Paget-Lewis shot and killed Ali
Osman and injured Ahmet. He then drove to the home of the Deputy Head
Master where he shot and injured the Deputy Head Master and killed his

     On 8 March 1988, the police stopped and arrested Paget-Lewis on
the M1 motorway. He said words to the effect of "Why didn't you stop
me before I did it. I gave all the warning signs."

     On 28 October 1988, Paget-Lewis was convicted of two charges of
manslaughter having pleaded guilty on the grounds of diminished
responsibility. He was sentenced to be detained in a secure mental
hospital without limit of time pursuant to section 41 of the Mental
Health Act 1983.

     On 28 September 1989, the applicants commenced proceedings
against the police alleging negligence in that, inter alia, they had
failed to apprehend Paget-Lewis prior to 7 March 1988, failed to
interview Paget-Lewis other than in relation to the road traffic
offences, failed to charge Paget-Lewis with any offence and failed to
trace Paget-Lewis through car hire company records. Orders for
discovery of documents were made on 24 April 1990.

     On 19 August 1991, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner issued
a summons for an order that the statement of claim be struck out on the
ground that it disclosed no reasonable cause of action. The High Court
judge dismissed the application.

     On 7 October 1992, the Court of Appeal upheld the appeal by the
Commissioner. In its judgment, it held that in light of previous
authorities no action could lie against the police in negligence in the
investigation and suppression of crime on the grounds that public
policy required an immunity from suit.

     Lord Justice McCowan found, inter alia:

     "In my judgment the plaintiffs <the applicants> have therefore
     an arguable cause that as between  <the second applicant> and his
     family, on the one hand and the investigating officers, on the
     other, there existed a very close degree of proximity amounting
     to a special relationship."

     However, having regard in particular to the judgment of the House
of Lords in the case of Hill (see Relevant domestic law and practice
below), with which he found no relevant distinction, he considered that
the matters in issue were failures in investigation of crime and public
policy doomed the action to failure. The second judge in the Court of
Appeal, Lord Justice Beldam, also held that on grounds of public policy
the claims were not maintainable and Lord Justice Simon Brown agreed
with the judgment of Lord Justice McCowan. The applicants' claim was
accordingly struck out.

     The Court of Appeal refused leave to appeal to the House of Lords
and the application to the House of Lords for leave to appeal was
refused on 10 May 1993.

b.   Relevant domestic law and practice

     In the case of Dorset Yacht Co. Ltd. v. the Home Office (1970 AC
1004), owners of a yacht damaged by Borstal boys, who had escaped from
the supervision of prison officers, sought to sue the Home Office
alleging negligence by the prison officers. The House of Lords held
that in the particular case a duty of care could arise. Lord Diplock

     "I should therefore hold that any duty of a Borstal officer to
     use reasonable care to prevent a Borstal trainee from escaping
     from his custody was owed only to persons whom he could
     reasonably foresee had property situated in the vicinity of the
     place of detention of the detainee which the detainee was likely
     to steal or to appropriate and damage in the course of eluding
     immediate pursuit and capture."

     In the case of Hill v. Chief Constable of West Yorkshire (1989
AC 53), the mother of a victim of the Yorkshire Ripper instituted
proceedings against the police alleging that they had failed properly
to exercise their duty to exercise all reasonable care and skill to
apprehend the perpetrator of the murders and to protect members of the
public who might be his victims. Lord Keith in the House of Lords

     "The alleged negligence of the police consists in a failure to
     discover his identity. But if there is no general duty of care
     owed to individual members of the public by the responsible
     authorities to prevent the escape of a known criminal or to
     recapture him, there cannot reasonably be imposed upon any police
     force a duty of care similarly to identify and apprehend an
     unknown one. Miss Hill cannot for this purpose be regarded as a
     person at special risk simply because she was young and female.
     Where the class of potential victims of a particular habitual
     criminal is a large one the precise size of it cannot in
     principle affect the issue. All householders are potential
     victims of an habitual burglar and all females those of a
     habitual rapist. The conclusion must be that although there
     existed reasonable foreseeability of likely harm to Miss Hill if
     Sutcliffe were not identified and apprehended, there is absent
     from the case any such ingredient or characteristic as led to the
     liability of the Home Secretary in the Dorset Yacht case. Nor is
     there present any additional characteristic such as might make
     up a deficiency. The circumstances of the case are therefore not
     capable of establishing a duty of care owed towards Miss Hill by
     the West Yorkshire Police."

     He went on to find that in any case there was another ground for
rejecting the case, namely, public policy in preventing a flood of
complaints alleging police failure to catch criminals which would
result in a significant diversion of police and manpower from their
most important function of suppressing crime.

     Lord Templeman commented:

     "...if this action lies, every citizen will be able to require
     the court to investigate the performance of every policeman. If
     the policeman concentrates on one crime, he may be accused of
     neglecting others. If the policeman does not arrest on suspicion
     a suspect with previous convictions, the police force may be held
     liable for subsequent crimes. The threat of litigation against
     a police force would not make a policeman more efficient. The
     necessity for defending proceedings, successfully or
     unsuccessfully, would distract the policeman from his duties.

     This action is misconceived and will do more harm than good."


Article 2 of the Convention

     The applicants allege that the State breached its positive duty
to protect life in that the police failed in the compelling
circumstances of this case to avert the death of Ali Osman and injury
of Ahmet Osman by taking the appropriate steps.

Article 8 of the Convention

     The applicants complain under this provision of the failure of
the police to take the necessary steps to prevent the persistent
harassment of the applicants for over a year.

Article 6 of the Convention

     The applicants complain that the immunity from suit in civil
proceedings  of the police where the proximity of the parties gave rise
to a duty of care deprives the applicants of their right of access to
court in the determination of their civil rights and obligations. The
immunity does not, in their submission, pursue a legitimate aim and is

Article 13 of the Convention

     The applicants submit that they have not been provided with a
remedy before a national authority to have their claim decided and if
appropriate to obtain redress. They submit that the possibility of
applying to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board does not
constitute an effective remedy.


     The application was introduced on 10 November 1993 and registered
on 14 February 1994.

     On 30 August 1994, the Commission decided to communicate the
application to the respondent Government, pursuant to Rule 48
para. 2 (b) of the Rules of Procedure.

     The Government's written observations were submitted on 31
January 1995 after two extensions of the time-limit fixed for that
purpose.  The applicants replied on 7 June 1995, also after two
extensions of the time-limit.

     On 16 October 1995, the Commission decided to invite the parties
to make submissions at an oral hearing at Strasbourg.

     The applicant and Government submitted further observations and
documents on 3 May 1996.

     At the hearing, which took place on 17 May 1996, the Government
were represented by Mr. M.R. Eaton, Agent, Mr. J. Eadie, counsel, Mr.
S. Freeland, counsel, and Mrs. S. Weston, Mr. G. Edwards, Mrs. S.
McDougall and Mr. P. Shawdon, as advisers. The applicants were
represented by Mr. B. Emmerson,  counsel, Mr. T. Kerr, counsel, Mrs.
N. Mole, solicitor, Mrs. L. Christian, solicitor, Mr.   A. Clapham,
counsel, and Mr.      A. Porter, legal assistant.


     The applicants complain that the police had failed to take
adequate steps to protect the right of life of their family and that
they were denied access to court to pursue an action in negligence
against the police. They also complain of the failure to take steps in
respect of the constant harassment over a period of more than a year
and that they have no effective remedies in respect of their
complaints. They invoke Article 2 (Art. 2) (the right to life), Article
6 (Art. 6) (the right to access to court), Article 8 (Art. 8) (the
right to respect for family life, private life and home) and Article
13 (Art. 13) (the right to effective national remedies for Convention
breaches) of the Convention.

     The parties' principal submissions may be summarised as follows.

     As regards the complaints under Article 2 (Art. 2), the
Government point out that domestic law prohibits murder and
manslaughter. They argue that there can be no positive duty to exclude
any possible violence by third persons. While there may be a positive
obligation on a Contracting State to provide  appropriate structures,
it will be only in exceptional cases, where there is and is known to
be a real, direct and immediate threat to life and an assumption of
responsibility to carry out an act or acts, that the police could be
under any obligation to take specific actions. In this case, the
Government emphasise that at no stage prior to the shooting was a
threat to the life of the Osmans made by word or deed and they dispute
the applicants' submissions about general threats; that there was no
evidence that the acts of vandalism preceding the shooting were
committed by Paget-Lewis; that these acts had come to an end four
months before the shooting and the police had no reason to suspect that
Paget-Lewis had stolen a shotgun. Further, the incidents in which
Paget-Lewis was suspected of being involved tended to suggest that his
anger was directed equally against a number of other people. It is
denied that police officers either knew or should have known that the
applicants were at any risk to their lives or that they had given any
assurances of safety to the applicants.  Accordingly, the Government
submit that sufficient and appropriate steps were taken by the police
on the information and evidence available to them to protect Mr. Ali
Osman and Ahmet Osman.

     The Government submit that Article 6 (Art. 6) is inapplicable
since the Court of Appeal in the present case held that the applicants
had no right recognised under domestic law to claim damages from the
police. If it is in fact applicable the exclusion of a duty of care on
the part of the police in a limited area is compatible with Article 6
(Art. 6), as pursuing a legitimate aim in a proportionate manner, in
which context they point out, inter alia, that the exclusion applies,
not to actions against the police in negligence generally, but only in
the limited category of the investigation or suppression of crime; that
the applicants could sue Paget-Lewis himself and apply to the Criminal
Injuries Compensation Board.

     To the extent that there might be any arguable claim of a
violation of a substantive provision of the Convention for the purposes
of Article 13 (Art. 13), the Government refer to the considerations
raised under Article 6 (Art. 6), which they submit must be of equal

     The applicants submit under Article 2 (Art. 2) of the Convention
that the United Kingdom were under a positive obligation to protect the
right to life of the deceased, Ali Osman, and Ahmet Osman and that this
obligation was breached by the failure of the police to take adequate
and appropriate steps to protect them. They submit that the facts of
the case show that the police were kept well-informed of events and the
fears of the school authorities, pointing to statements by, inter alia,
school and education authority personnel that the police did consider
Paget-Lewis to be a potential threat to the applicants. The applicants
submit that on three occasions Paget-Lewis had made threats to commit
murder, including on 15 December 1987 talking about "doing something
which would be a sort of Hungerford" (a mass killing in the United
Kingdom in the 1980's). The applicants submit that on each of the three
occasions the threat was communicated to the police. They further
submit, inter alia, that inadequate steps were taken to secure evidence
against Paget-Lewis in relation to the criminal damage or to ensure
that he was taken into custody once the decision to arrest had been

     The applicants complain under Article 6 (Art. 6) of the
Convention of denial of access to court since their claims against the
police were struck out on the basis that public policy conferred an
immunity on the police in actions for negligence in relation to the
investigation and suppression of crime. They submit that the immunity
conferred on the police does not pursue a legitimate aim or,
alternatively, is disproportionate to the aim sought to be achieved.
There is, for example, no convincing reason why police should be
treated differently from any other public body pursuing a public
service or other professionals, such as medical practitioners.

     The applicants further submit that, even assuming that the
Commission accepts the Government's arguments as to the applicability
of Article 6, Article 13 (Art. 6, 13) would require that they be
provided with an effective remedy in respect of their complaints. In
light of their inability to pursue proceedings against the police
before a court, such effective remedy is lacking.

     The Commission considers, having regard to the parties'
submissions, that the case raises complex and serious issues of fact
and law under the Convention, the determination of which should depend
upon an examination of the merits of the application as a whole. The
Commission concludes, therefore, that the application is not manifestly
ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the
Convention. No other grounds for declaring it inadmissible have been

     For these reasons, the Commission, by a majority,

     DECLARES THE APPLICATION ADMISSIBLE, without prejudging the
     merits of the case.

Secretary to the Commission            President of the Commission

     (H.C. KRÜGER)                            (S. TRECHSEL)