'Naked rambler' locked up again after leaving jail

 

A man who has spent most of the past five years in prison for refusing to wear clothes in public has been jailed again, this time for almost 22 months.

Stephen Gough, a former Royal Marine, has been dubbed "the Naked Rambler" thanks to his fondness for hiking across Britain in the nuddy.

He insists it is his human right to eschew clothing but the forces of law and order have deemed otherwise and he has been in jail almost continuously since May 2006.

His latest prison sentence of 657 days, his longest yet, was imposed after he walked naked out of Perth prison and enjoyed less than 60 seconds of freedom before waiting police arrested him for a breach of the peace.

The sentence comprises a year for breaching the peace, 90 days for contempt of court and the unserved portion of the 21-month sentence that he was released from early on 20 July.

His conviction for contempt of court came after he refused to wear clothes in the dock at Perth Sheriff Court during his trial. The hearing was delayed while court staff fetched a piece of paper for the naked defendant to sit on "for hygiene reasons".

Sheriff Michael Fletcher told him: "The court expects people to come here in a decent state of dress. That has been explained to you in the past. I gave you the opportunity to dress yourself."

Mr Gough said: "What I am doing is based on my belief about what I am and what I am is not indecent. Ordinary people have prejudices and intolerances." His defence, however, was rejected, as it has been at a succession of hearing over the last decade.

He came to public attention when he hiked from Lands End to John O'Groats naked apart from socks, boots, hat and rucksack. The 900-mile walk was intended to focus attention on public attitudes to nudity. It ended in January 2004 but, being punctuated by several arrests and two jail terms, it took him seven months to complete.

In 2005, while hiking across the Cairngorms with a companion as part of his 'Freedom to be Yourself' campaign, he told The Independent: "People talk about a healthy self-image and that it is important to be comfortable with your own body. We are challenging people to think about how they really feel about their own bodies."

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