THE FACTS

The facts as presented by the applicant may be summarised as follows:

The applicant is a citizen of the United Kingdom, born in India in
1923, and is an accountant by profession; at the date of the
introduction of the application, he was detained in prison in Wormwood
Scrubs.

In the proceedings before the Commission he is represented, pursuant
to a letter of authorization signed by him by his wife, Mrs. X.

She states that her husband was the principal victim but that she was
also effected. Subsequently, in reply to a letter from the Secretariat
asking her why her husband was not able himself to submit his own case
to the Commission, she stated that the Home Office had refused him
permission and had said that his wife could do so. In a further letter,
she stated that her husband's position in the prison where he was
serving his sentence made it impossible for him to gather the necessary
information, documentary or otherwise, to present his petition in its
entirety, although the prison authorities had been most helpful within
the limits imposed by prison regulations.

The applicant was sentenced, on 11 February 1971, by the Central
Criminal Court in London to concurrent terms of four years'
imprisonment for offenses which concerned frauds alleged to have been
carried out by him in the course of his employment.

At his trial the applicant initially pleaded not guilty to all the
counts against him. He states that, in the course of the trial, he was
served with a bankruptcy petition, which he showed to his counsel, and
that he was subsequently persuaded by counsel, at a conference, to
change his plea to guilty. When the trial resumed, he pleaded guilty
to five counts, of which he was then forthwith convicted by the jury;
he then pleaded guilty to a further twenty-two counts.

The court proceeded to the trial of the applicant's co-accused who had
pleaded not guilty. Finally, after a plea of mitigation on his behalf
and the hearing of further evidence, the applicant was sentenced to
concurrent terms of four years' imprisonment; his co-accused was
sentenced to twenty-one months. In passing sentence on the applicant,
the judge stated that he would reduce what he had in mind in the proper
sentence by a substantial amount because of militation factors,
including the fact that he had pleaded guilty at a time which was quite
reasonable after hearing the whole case opened against him; they had
been saved a trial of two to three weeks and this meant a great deal
of public time and money.

With regard to the conference in counsel's chambers, the applicant
submits six separate affidavits, all in identical terms by members of
his family who were present at the conference, stating as follows:

"Mr. M. QC stated emphatically that if Mr. X. pleaded not guilty to the
charges and was convicted, he would be sentenced to a very long term
of imprisonment, but if he pleaded guilty, there would be a substantial
reduction. He said that he had already had a word with the judge, who
had given his permission to tell the accused and also that the judge
was a personal friend of his and called him Eric and who was a Buddhist
and had great sympathy with people coming from that part of the world
(sic) where Buddhism is prevalent.

Mr. X. pointed out that he had a defence being that he was engaged in
the transaction at the request of his superiors and was given to
understand that the goods were always supplied. Mr. M. QC, however,
said that in the circumstances Mr. X. would not be believed and the
police evidence are always acceptable by the judges and there was not
good in putting forward a defence. Mr. X. then agreed to plead guilty."

The applicant asserts that but for the pressure thus exerted on him he
would not have pleaded guilty. He also contends that the judge's action
in indicting to counsel, as is alleged, that a plea of guilty would
lead to a less severe sentence was contrary to directions given on this
subject by the Court of Appeal.

The applicant also asserts that admission made by him to the police
were obtained from him when he was in a state of extreme agitation, and
that in making them he hoped to protect others.
Finally, he states that, in the civil proceedings brought against him
by his employers, for recovery of the money of which he was alleged to
have defrauded them, the court found there were no grounds for part of
the claim, and allowed him to contest the other parts.

The documents submitted by the applicant include copies of a letter
from Mr. M. to the applicant, and a letter to the Registrar of the
Criminal Appeal Office, dealing with the incident in the conference.

The letter to the applicant, dated 14 April 1971, reads as follows:

"Thank you very much for your letters dated both the 7th and 13th
April. I am very grateful for your kind remarks and would certainly
like to help you further if this were possible.
However the situation is that the matter now remains in the hands of
your Solicitors and no doubt Junior Counsel if there is to be any
appeal and I strongly advise you to communicate with your Solicitor
without delay if you have not already done so. My own feeling is that
the sentence is not likely to be reduced and of course there is no
appeal available to you against your conviction as such as you pleaded
guilty.
I would only like to add this as to how you came to plead guilty; as
you know I took the view that the case against you was overwhelming but
I made it clear to you that in my opinion you ought not to consider a
plea of guilty if it was against your conscience, but should only do
so if in fact you would not be doing yourself an injustice.
There was certainly no pressure from the Judge nor any advice to you
from him nor did I communicate either to you, nor indeed were you given
any reason or need to fear the Judge. It was explained to you that no
one receives an increased sentence above what the Judge considers to
be right and proper merely because he contests a case, but on the other
hand consideration is generally shown by some reduction in the sentence
to those who do plead guilty especially where a great deal of public
time and money is thereby saved."

The letter from Mr. M. to the Registrar of the Criminal Appeal Office,
dated 11 October 1971, was sent to the applicant on the following day
by the Office; it sets out at greater length Mr. M's recollection of
the circumstances. The applicant was advised to forward any comments,
which would be placed, together with the correspondence, before the
Court of Appeal on 22 October 1971.

The applicant applied for leave to appeal against conviction and
sentence. The applications were refused by a single judge on 16 July
1971; the judge stated, in respect of the application for leave to
appeal against conviction, that there was a plea of guilty and he could
see no grounds for undermining it. The applicant renewed his
applications to the full Court, which refused them on 29 October 1971.
An attempt was also made to apply for a writ of habeas corpus.

The applicant invokes Article 6 (1), (2) and (3) (b), (c) and (d) and
Article 9 of the Convention.

THE LAW

1.   The Commission first considered the question whether the
applicant's wife could be accepted as representing him in the
proceedings before the Commission. It noted that it had, as a matter
of practice, accepted the representation of an applicant by a close
relative authorised to act on his behalf, in circumstances where the
Commission was satisfied that the applicant could not satisfactorily
present his case himself. In the present case, the Commission finds
that Mr. A's submission that her husband would have had difficulty in
presenting the case fully himself is a sufficient reason for accepting
her as his representative.

2.   The Commission next examined the admissibility of the
application, in the first place the applicant's complaint concerning
his conviction.

The applicant pleaded guilty in the course of his trial, but asserts
that he did so only because of pressure exerted on him through his
counsel following a conversation between the judge and counsel.

The Commission examined this complaint under Article 6 (1) (Art. 6-1)
of the Convention which guarantees the right to a fair trial, and also
under Article 6 (2) (Art. 6-2) of the Convention, which provides that
"Everyone charged with a criminal offense shall be presumed innocent
until proved guilty according to law".

The Commission notes that, under English criminal procedure, if a
person pleads guilty there is no trial in the usual sense; if the judge
is satisfied that the accused understands the effect of his plea his
confession is recorded, and the subsequent proceedings are concerned
only with the question of sentence.

The Commission, having examined this practice in the context of English
criminal procedures and also the other systems among those States
Parties to the Convention where a similar practice is found, is
satisfied that the practice as such is not inconsistent with the
requirements of Article 6 (1) and (2) (Art. 6-1, 6-2) of the
Convention. In arriving at this conclusion, the Commission has had
regard to the rules under which the practice operates and in particular
to the safeguards which are provided to avoid the possibility of abuse.

As regards the application of this system to the applicant in the
present case, he has alleged that improper pressure was put on him to
plead guilty, and has submitted affidavits in support of his
allegations. He has also submitted copies of statements by his counsel
concerning the incident in question.

The Commission, having examined the evidence submitted by the
applicant, finds that it does not show that, as a result of the
particular statements made by the judge, he was subjected to pressure
to plead guilty. The Commission relies in particular on the statements
made by the applicant's counsel in his letter to the applicant dated
14 April 1971, and also in a letter of 11 October 1971 to the Registrar
of the Criminal Appeal Office. In the second letter, the applicant's
counsel repeatedly emphasises that no improper pressure was put on him,
and states that "so far as his legal advisers were concerned, he was
under none and he was told to make, and so far as we could see did
make, an entirely free decision of his own free will".

An examination by the Commission of this complaint as it has been
submitted, including an examination made ex officio, does not therefore
disclose any appearance of a violation of the rights and freedoms set
forth in the Convention and in particular in Article 6 (1) and (2)
(Art. 6-1, 6-2).

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

3.   Insofar as the applicant can be said to complain of the
proceedings on sentence, the Commission observes that such complaints
could raise issues under Article 6 (Art. 6) of the Convention; see its
final decision on the admissibility of Application No. 4623/70, Russel
v. the United Kingdom. However, there is no appearance of any violation
of Article 6 (Art. 6) in the present case. The transcript of the trial
shows that, after the applicant's plea of guilty, his counsel made very
full submissions on the question of sentence, and that witnesses were
examined and cross-examined before sentence was passed.

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

4.   The Commission finally noted the applicant's statement that the
Home Office had refused him permission to submit his case to the
Commission, and had said that his wife could do so. The Commission
considered this statement under Article 25 (1) (Art. 25-1) in fine of
the Convention which provides that States which have accepted the right
of individual petition to the Commission "undertake not to hinder in
any way the effective exercise of this right". The Commission noted
that a reply was awaited to a letter from the Secretariat of 10 March
1972 asking for further particulars of this complaint, and decides that
further consideration might be given to this complaint if the applicant
were to submit any evidence in support of his allegation.

For these reasons the Commission

1.   DECLARES THIS APPLICATION INADMISSIBLE

2.   DECIDES TO ADJOURN ITS EXAMINATION OF THE ALLEGED INTERFERENCE
WITH THE EFFECTIVE EXERCISE OF THE RIGHT OF INDIVIDUAL PETITION