THE FACTS

The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised
as follows:

The applicant is a United Kingdom citizen, born in Liverpool in 1916.
When he introduced his application he was held in H.M. Prison, A. but
was released early in 1972 and now lives in F., London.

On .. June 1966, while serving a prison sentence in W., he underwent
an operation to straighten the toes of his right foot. He was released
from prison on .. September  1966.
The applicant was again sent to prison in about July 1967: this time
to P. On .. August 1969 he underwent a further operation in the prison
hospital to amputate the small toe of his right foot. Some time between
the date and .. October 1969 the applicant petitioned the Home
Secretary for compensation and for permission to seek legal advice with
a view to claiming compensation for disability in his right foot. It
appears that he complained of negligence by the prison medical
authorities. His petition was rejected as, in the view of the Home
Office, the first operation was properly successfully carried out and
the applicant had throughout received all the treatment and advice
which would have been expected from competent and conscientious
doctors; in any case, according to the Home Office, the Statute of
Limitations barred the applicant from taking legal action as the
original operation had taken place more than 3 years previously.
The applicant again petitioned the Home Secretary, apparently for the
same purpose, on .. February 1970 and .. October 1970, but his
petitions were rejected.

The applicant underwent a further operation in A. Prison hospital on
.. October 1971 to straighten the big toe of his right foot. The
operation was carried out by the P. prison surgeon and entailed a month
in P. prison hospital.

The applicant states that he did not consider making any further
petitions to the Home Office after his treatment in 1971, because he
expected that any further petitions would be rejected like the earlier
ones.

In March 1972 the applicant was discharged from A. prison and went to
live in Southampton. It seems that he then underwent yet another
operation to shorten the bone in his big toe. He is still receiving
out-patient hospital treatment. He moved to F. in July 1972.

Complaints

The applicant complains that he entered prison a fit man and was
discharged a cripple. He now walks with a limp. He can no longer take
work as a labourer and is obliged to live on Social Security.

He complains of the fact that while he was in prison his petitions from
compensation were rejected and that he was not granted facilities to
seek legal advice.

He does not allege the violation of any particular Article of the
Convention but requests the Commission to grant him compensation.

THE LAW

The applicant has complained that he entered prison a fit man and was
discharged a cripple. He states that he now walks with a limp, can no
longer take work as a labourer and is obliged to live on Social
Security. He further complains of the fact that while he was in prison
he petitioned for compensation and for permission to see a lawyer and
that his petitions were rejected.

It is not clear from the way in which the applicant has presented the
facts of his case to the Commission how he considers that they
constitute a violation of the Convention. He has not specified the
violation of any particular Article of the Convention but has asked the
Commission to grant him compensation.

It appears that the applicant's main object has at all times been to
obtain the payment of a sum of money as compensation. He has applied
on several occasions to the United Kingdom authorities for payment and
this has been refused. Such refusal in no way constitutes a violation
of the Convention which does not provide, as such, for payment of
social and medical benefits. But on one occasion the applicant also
applied for permission to seek legal advice and it seems that this
application was also refused. The Commission has examined this aspect
of the case in the light of Article 6 (1) (Art. 6-1) of the Convention
which provides that "in the determination of his civil rights and
obligations ... everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing
within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal ...".
If the applicant applied for leave to see a solicitor with a view to
the eventual "determination of his civil rights" and such leave was
refused, this might appear, prima facie, to raise an issue under
Article 6 (1) (Art. 6-1) of the Convention. It would not be relevant
that the authorities themselves considered that he had no civil right
or that they considered that such right had been barred by the passing
of time. This was something which should have been decided by the
"independent and impartial tribunal" unless, for example, he abandoned
his action because a lawyer, acting on the applicant's behalf,
intervened to inform him that the matter was not worth taking before
a tribunal.

In this respect the facts of the case cause some difficulty. The
applicant originally petitioned the prison authorities for compensation
and for permission to see a lawyer. Both requests were refused. The
applicant then states that he did not consider making any further
petitions to the Home Office after his treatment in 1971, because he
expected that any further petitions would be rejected like the earlier
ones. This does not seem unreasonable. In December 1971, however, a
White Paper was laid before the United Kingdom Parliament announcing
that existing prison practice would be liberalised in such a way that
where a prisoner had suffered some physical injury or disablement and
when there was an allegation of negligence on the part of the prison
authorities or staff, that prisoner would be granted access to a
solicitor in order to obtain advice as to the possible institution of
civil proceedings. Under this new practice it seems that the applicant
was entitled to seek legal advice for that purpose. Yet he did not
attempt to take advantage of it. Nor, when he was released from prison
in March 1972, did he attempt to consult a solicitor.

Although, therefore, it appeared that the applicant was prevented from
consulting a lawyer in 1969, it seems that he took no advantage of the
opportunity to see a lawyer which was offered to him from December 1971
onwards. Neither during the last three months of his imprisonment, nor
on his release from prison, did he attempt to consult with a lawyer.
Such conduct appears to indicate that he did not wish after all to have
his "civil rights determined" within the meaning of Article 6 (1)
(Art. 6-1) of the Convention.

Even supposing, therefore, that the refusal of the authorities in 1969
to allow the applicant to consult a solicitor was not in conformity
with Article 6 (1) (Art. 6-1) of the Convention, the Commission notes
first that such a situation will not occur again because the relevant
United Kingdom practice has been liberalised; and, secondly, that the
applicant did not consult a solicitor when he was able to do so. In
this respect the Commission refers to the legal principle of "de
minimis non curat lex". It seems improper to hold that the authorities
prevented the applicant from obtaining the "determination of his civil
rights" when his later conduct indicates that he was seeking nothing
beyond a lump sum payment of compensation directly from the Government
or the Commission.

An examination by the Commission of this complaint as it has been
submitted, including an examination made ex officio, does not therefore
disclose an appearance of a violation of the rights and freedoms set
forth in the Convention and in particular in the above Article.

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

For these reasons, the Commission DECLARES THIS APPLICATION
INADMISSIBLE