AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

                       Application No. 34728/97
                       by Rosemary WEST
                       against the United Kingdom

     The European Commission of Human Rights sitting in private on
20 October 1997, the following members being present:

           Mr    S. TRECHSEL, President
           Mrs   G.H. THUNE
           Mrs   J. LIDDY
           MM    E. BUSUTTIL
                 G. JÖRUNDSSON
                 A.S. GÖZÜBÜYÜK
                 A. WEITZEL
                 J.-C. SOYER
                 H. DANELIUS
                 F. MARTINEZ
                 C.L. ROZAKIS
                 L. LOUCAIDES
                 J.-C. GEUS
                 M.P. PELLONPÄÄ
                 B. MARXER
                 M.A. NOWICKI
                 I. CABRAL BARRETO
                 B. CONFORTI
                 N. BRATZA
                 I. BÉKÉS
                 J. MUCHA
                 D. SVÁBY
                 G. RESS
                 A. PERENIC
                 C. BÎRSAN
                 K. HERNDL
                 E. BIELIUNAS
                 E.A. ALKEMA
                 M. VILA AMIGÓ
           Mrs   M. HION
           MM    R. NICOLINI
                 A. ARABADJIEV

           Mr    M. de SALVIA, 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 7 October 1996 by
Rosemary WEST against the United Kingdom and registered on 4 February
1997 under file No. 34728/97;

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

     Having deliberated;

     Decides as follows:


 THE FACTS

     The applicant is a British citizen born in 1953 and currently
detained at HM Prison Durham.  She is represented before the Commission
by Mr. L. Goatley, a solicitor practising in Gloucester.

     The facts, as submitted on behalf of the applicant, may be
summarised as follows.

     The applicant together with her husband, Fred West, were charged,
inter alia, with the murder of 10 young girls whose remains were
discovered buried in the basement or grounds of the house which they
occupied at 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester.  It was the prosecution
case that the victims had been sexually abused, and that the applicant
had participated with her husband in the abuse and murder of each of
the victims.  Fred West committed suicide on 1 January 1995 whilst in
custody awaiting trial.

     The features of the case were such as to attract considerable
attention from the media.  The applicant, her sexual proclivities and
the nature of her relationship with her husband were, it is submitted,
the subject of extensive and unremitting adverse pre-trial media
coverage which was prejudicial to her defence and denied her a fair
trial.  Furthermore, prior to her trial certain key prosecution
witnesses were paid or promised payment by the press of significant
sums in return for their stories.

     On 22 November 1995, the applicant was convicted on all 10 counts
of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

     The applicant sought leave to appeal against her convictions on
grounds, inter alia, that adverse media coverage and the payment of
money to key prosecution witnesses by the press had been such as to
preclude a fair trial and render her convictions unsafe.

     The Court of Appeal refused the applicant leave to appeal on
19 March 1996, but deferred giving reasons for its decision until
2 April 1996 when a fully reasoned judgment was handed down by the
Court of Appeal sitting in open court.

     The Court of Appeal gave amongst its reasons that the effect of
media coverage is essentially ephemeral and the nature of a trial to
focus the jury's mind on the evidence before them; that the defence
were aware of and cross-examined witnesses as to their contracts and
involvement with the media; that no substantial inconsistencies were
established between the statements which the witnesses had given to the
police and their evidence at trial; and that the judge painstakingly
went through the contracts in his summing up to the jury.

     Mr Goatley, the applicant's solicitor in the criminal
proceedings, did not himself attend the hearing on 2 April 1996, but
obtained a copy of the Court of Appeal's judgment on 9 April 1996,
having requested a copy of the judgment after the hearing from the
Registrar of Appeals.  The hearing on 2 April 1996 was, however,
attended by junior counsel, who had represented the applicant
throughout the trial and application for leave to appeal, although not
it seems on Mr Goatley's express instructions.  Further, it does not
appear that there was any contact between junior counsel and Mr Goatley
following the hearing of the application for leave to appeal on
19 March 1996.  The applicant was subsequently sent a copy of the
judgment by Mr Goatley on 20 April 1996.

     In an affidavit sworn on 13 November 1996, Mr Goatley refers to
a telephone call to the Secretariat to the Commission on 17 September
1996 in relation to which he states:

     "     During the aforesaid telephone call I clearly stated
     by way of introduction that I represented <the applicant>,
     who had been convicted of the murder of ten young women and
     sentenced to ten life sentences, that the client maintained
     her innocence and felt strongly that her trial had been
     prejudiced by the intrusive conduct of the media in making
     payments to witnesses and in the pre-trial publicity and
     that therefore she did not get a fair trial and that there
     had been a contravention of Articles 6 and 10(2) of the
     European Convention on Human Rights.

           Upon so advising the administrator that I spoke to on
     the telephone I then requested an outline of the procedure
     whereby I could proceed with the Application."

     He has provided an itemised telephone bill which records a call
to the Council of Europe on 17 September 1996, and a manuscript
memorandum of the same date recording various aspects of procedure
before the Commission as provided during a telephone conversation.

COMPLAINTS

     The applicant invokes Article 6 of the Convention.  The applicant
complains that the extensive and relentless adverse coverage of the
case, and the payments made or promised to key prosecution witnesses
by the press for their stories prior to trial was such as to deprive
her of a fair trial.  Specifically, the applicant complains that:

(1)  prejudicial newspaper coverage of the case was so pervasive,
     intrusive and unremitting that it would have had an indelible
     effect on the mind of any person serving on the jury.  The
     applicant points out that the material published dealt with facts
     which were directly in issue at the trial, and dwelt on her
     sexual proclivities and the nature of her relationship with Fred
     West in such a way as to prejudice her defence;

(2)  the witnesses, in selling their stories to the media in
     circumstances where the media were seeking to sensationalise and
     emphasise the more lurid aspects of the case, could no longer be
     relied upon to give objective and reliable testimony at trial;

(3)  such safeguards as exist in domestic law, namely under the
     Contempt of Court Act 1981, to control media coverage of criminal
     proceedings are inadequate and that, in any event, the Attorney
     General, whose duty it is to intervene to control media coverage
     where there is a substantial risk of serious prejudice to those
     proceedings, failed properly to discharge his duty.  In this
     regard the applicant points to Article 10 para. 2 of the
     Convention which permits of restrictions in the exercise of
     freedom of expression where such is necessary in a democratic
     society for maintaining the impartiality of the judiciary.

     The applicant further complains of inequality of arms at the
committal stage of the proceedings in that whilst the prosecution was
represented by both junior and leading counsel, the applicant was
limited under the Legal Aid in Criminal and Care Proceedings (1989) to
representation by junior counsel only.

THE LAW

     The applicant invokes Article 6 (Art. 6) of the Convention.  She
complains that the nature and effect of unremitting and adverse pre-
trial media coverage of the case was such as to establish her guilt in
the minds of the public at large and so denied her a fair trial.  The
applicant further complains that payments made or promised to key
prosecution witnesses by the press in return for their stories rendered
their evidence unreliable and precluded a fair trial.  The applicant
submits that there were inadequate safeguards, alternatively that such
safeguards as existed were not applied in order to control the media
in their contact with prosecution witnesses and coverage of the case
prior to trial. The applicant also complains of inequality of arms at
the committal stage of the criminal proceedings.

     The Commission recalls that under Article 26 (Art. 26) of the
Convention it may only deal with an application within a period of six
months from the date on which the final decision was taken.

     The applicant submits that her complaints were introduced at the
telephone by her legal adviser on 17 September 1996.  In the
alternative, the applicant contends that the six month time limit under
Article 26 (Art. 26) ran from the date on which her legal adviser, and
solicitor in the criminal proceedings, received a copy of the Court of
Appeal's judgment refusing her leave to appeal, namely 9 April 1996 -
and not the date on which the judgement was handed down in court,
namely 2 April 1996 - in which case, the applicant submits, the letter
dated 7 October 1996 which introduced the substance of the applicant's
complaints was within time.

     As to the applicant's first submission, the Commission recalls
that Rule 44 para. 4 of its Rules of Procedure provides that:

     "The date of introduction of the application shall in
     general be considered to be the date of the first
     communication from the applicant setting out, even
     summarily, the object of the application.  The Commission
     may nevertheless for good cause decide that a different
     date be considered to be the date of introduction."

     Although Rule 44 para. 4 does not, in terms, stipulate for the
manner and form of communication, the Commission recalls its case law
to the effect that the running of the six month period under Article
26 (Art. 26) is, as a rule, interrupted by the first written
communication from the applicant setting out summarily the object of
the application, provided that this written communication is not
followed by a long delay before the application is completed (see inter
alia No. 22123/93, Dec. 31.8.94, DR 79, p. 72; and No. 22507/93, Dec.
5 April 1995, DR 81, p. 67).  The Commission has considerable doubts
whether an application in the sense envisaged by its Rules of Procedure
could ever be introduced by telephone. Even assuming such was possible,
only very exceptional circumstances would justify an application being
introduced orally.  There must firstly be some overriding reason why
it was not possible to submit an application in writing, such as the
extremely urgent nature of the case (eg. applications involving a
request for interim measures under Rule 36 of the Commission's Rules
of Procedure in respect of imminent risk to life and limb).  Second,
in such circumstances an oral communication could only be effective to
introduce an application provided the applicant or his legal advisers
made express and unequivocal the fact that they were seeking formally
to introduce the application by this means.

     In the present case, when the applicant's legal adviser first
contacted the Commission by telephone on 17 September 1996, there
remained 15 days before the six-month limit under Article 26 (Art. 26)
expired.  The Commission finds no evidence of any overriding reason why
the applicant could not prior to or on 17 September 1996, or in the
15 days which remained, submit in writing to the Commission the
substance of her complaints under the Convention.  Furthermore, the
Commission does not discern, in the material submitted on the
applicant's behalf, evidence of any express and unequivocal
representation having been made by her legal adviser that he was
seeking, by means of the telephone call on 17 September 1996, formally
to introduce the application to the Commission. It is not established
that his telephone call on 17 September 1996 was anything more than an
approach with a view to obtaining general information about Commission
procedure.  It follows therefore that, even assuming that introduction
of applications by telephone is permissible, neither condition which
would be necessary for such oral introduction has been established in
the present case. The application was therefore introduced by the
applicant's solicitor's first letter of 7 October 1996, setting out the
substance of the application.

     As to the applicant's second submission, the Commission considers
the following principles to be established within its case law:

(1)  the six month period under Article 26 (Art. 26) begins to run on
     the day after the date on which the final domestic decision was
     pronounced orally in public or, if not so pronounced, was
     communicated to the applicant or the applicant's lawyer (eg. No.
     21034/92, Dec. 9.1.95, DR 80, p. 87) or where pursuant to
     domestic law and practice, the applicant is entitled to be served
     ex officio with a written copy of the judgment, from the date of
     receipt (Eur. Court HR, Worm v. Austria judgment of 29 August
     1997, Reports 1997-V, No. 45);

(2)  where the reasons given for the decision are salient to the
     application the six month period will ordinarily be taken to run
     from the date on which the full reasons for the decision were
     given, and not the date on which the applicant or his legal
     adviser was notified merely of the operative part of the decision
     (eg. No. 9299/81, Dec. 13.3.84, DR 36, p. 20);

(3)  the six month period runs from the date on which the applicant's
     lawyer in the relevant domestic proceedings became aware of the
     final decision, notwithstanding that the applicant himself may
     only have become aware of the decision at a later date (eg. No.
     14056/88, Dec. 28.5.91, DR 70, p. 208).

     The Commission recalls that in the present case leave to appeal
was refused by the Court of Appeal on 19 March 1996, which reserved
giving reasons for its decision until 2 April 1996 when a fully
reasoned judgement was handed down in open court.  The applicant's
solicitor did not attend the hearing on 2 April 1996.  The hearing on
2 April 1996 was, however, attended by junior counsel, who had
represented the applicant throughout the criminal proceedings and on
the subsequent application for leave to appeal, although not, it seems,
on the express instructions of the applicant's solicitor.

     Consistent with the above principles, the Commission considers
that in the absence of any sufficient reason to the contrary, the date
of the final decision should be taken from the date of the hearing,
namely 2 April 1996, at which the Court of Appeal handed down the fully
reasoned judgment for its decision refusing the applicant leave to
appeal on 19 March 1996, at which hearing counsel, who had represented
the applicant throughout the criminal proceedings and on the
application for leave to appeal attended.

     The Commission notes that it is nowhere suggested that the
applicant's solicitor was unaware of the date of the hearing, or that
counsel could not have been called upon to communicate the terms of the
judgment. It does not find that the fact that counsel was not expressly
instructed to attend the hearing on 2 April 1996, nor was subsequently
contacted by the applicant's solicitor following that hearing furnishes
sufficient reason to justify the Commission in taking as the final
decision the date on which the applicant's solicitor received a copy
of the Court of Appeal's judgment having requested a copy, following
the hearing, from the Registrar of Appeals. There is no obligation in
domestic law or practice that the written judgment be served on the
applicant by the court as in the Worm case (op. cit.).

     Accordingly, the application, which was introduced by the
applicant's letter of 7 October 1996, was introduced outside the six
month period provided for under Article 26 (Art. 26) of the Convention.
It follows, therefore, that the application must be rejected under
Article 27 para. 3 (Art. 27-3) thereof.

     For these reasons, the Commission, by a majority,


     DECLARES THE APPLICATION INADMISSIBLE.


        M. de SALVIA                        S. TRECHSEL
         Secretary                           President
      to the Commission                   of the Commission