'Naked rambler' appears before judges naked to appeal his conviction for being naked

Mr Gough says it is his human right to be naked in public

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The Independent Online

A man known as the "naked rambler" has made legal history - by appearing before leading judges in the nude.

Former marine Stephen Gough, from Hampshire, watched proceedings at the Court of Appeal in London via video link from prison.

Gough, who says it is his human right to be naked in public, remained seated behind a large table as the judges were asked to quash his most recent conviction.

A lawyer representing him in court argued on his behalf that the conviction for breaching an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) - by walking out of prison wearing only his boots and socks - was "unsafe" because he was not permitted to stand trial "not wearing any clothes".

Gough has an Asbo banning him from naked public appearances (Getty)

The trial at Winchester Crown Court in October last year was held in his absence. He was found guilty by a jury and sentenced by the trial judge to two-and-a-half years jail.

Gough, now 56, had refused to put on clothes as he left Winchester Prison as he was released from a term of imprisonment for a previous breach of the Asbo, which bans him from appearing in public without clothing. He was arrested outside the prison.

His appeal against the conviction was thrown out today by Lady Justice Rafferty and two other judges.

Lady Justice Rafferty announced: "In our judgment, were the defendant to have appeared naked in front of the court it would have been a further breach of the anti-social behaviour order."

She said this would be a "bizarre notion" and "fatal to his argument".

The judges also rejected a bid by Gough to challenge his "manifestly" excessive jail sentence.

While sentencing Gough last year, Judge Jane Miller had suggested moves should be made to find him a closed nudist community to live in to prevent the cycle of imprisonment which had seen him jailed for much of the past eight years.

Gough earned his nickname when he completed a naked trek from Land's End to John O'Groats in 2003 and he featured in a BBC documentary covering his journey.

Press Association