‘Naked Rambler’ Weeps in Court as Sheriff Orders Mental Assessment

Stephen Gough is once more in court for his ambition to walk around Britain naked. This time, he faces a court-ordered assessment into his mental well-being.

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Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

Naked rambler Stephen Gough as seen on his walk to John O'Groats from Land's End at Marazion, England, June 17, 2005.

Nudity seems to be in vogue among the Brits recently, what with Prince Harry very nearly showing the world his “crown jewels,” at least according to the blurry photos that have emerged from a wild vacation in Las Vegas. But Britain sports a more notorious nude: the infamous “naked rambler,” Stephen Gough, who has once more found himself on the wrong side of the law for his desire to walk around naked.

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Just three days after his release from Perth Prison in Scotland, where he spent six years in jail for indecent exposure, the 53-year-old former Royal Marine was arrested yet again for walking naked in Dunfermline, Scotland. Following complaints from the public, an officer came to find him to tell him to put on some clothes, and when he refused, he was taken into custody. His sentencing has been delayed as the sheriff, James Williamson, ordered an investigation into Gough’s mental health.

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Gough appeared at the Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court in Fife, Scotland, earlier this week for the two-hour trial, where he represented himself. He was wearing — as to be expected — not a shred of clothing. Gough was reported to have been tearful at points during the hearing, especially during times when witnesses explained their shock at seeing an unclothed man. One witness, Michelle Solway, is said to have not looked him in the eye during questioning, and alleged that her 10-year-old daughter had been shocked at the sight of a naked man.

Gough broke down, though, as he delivered his closing defense against the prosecution, led by Brian Robertson. The Guardian reports:

“There’s nothing about me as a human being that is indecent or alarming or offensive. That’s where I’m coming from, which is deep inside. So this provocative nature that [Robertson] is suggesting I have is nothing of the kind. It’s me, standing up for what I am. [Because] all of us are human beings too and we have children and our children are beautiful and we’re beautiful too, because we’re human beings – all the same. I have nothing to be ashamed about. I’m just a bloke standing up for the truth of what I am.”

His lofty language soars in a court of law, but his constant prosecution is leaving officials wondering about Gough’s sanity. As a result of his behavior, Sheriff Williamson has ordered Gough to undergo a mental health assessment before he can be sentenced. He said: “I want somebody independent to see whether your mental health is all that it should be because, in the absence of any good reason otherwise, you’re going to end up serving prison sentence after prison sentence.” So far, his arrests total more than 20 over his nearly 10-year streak as the “naked rambler.”

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It seems difficult to measure what compromise could come of a mental assessment, as Gough has long expressed his wish to be naked as a deeply-ingrained principle. He’s vowed to continue his fight against clothing, saying upon his release from prison in July: “I am not going to give up. Stay naked is the word.”

24 comments
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lowellbarnes
lowellbarnes

The question is, everyone: What is the rational, compelling reason that the group must force every individual to be clothed at all times in public? ("We don't want to see him" is not compelling.)

swift2010
swift2010

at our present time in History it is not acceptable for a man to walk about in public showing his willy if he was wearing  shorts there would not be a problem

now he either wears shorts or he will be locked up

simple 

Elwyn Williams
Elwyn Williams

Maybe he should move to Germany, where hiking trails for nudists were opened over 2 years ago.  

tma_sierrahills
tma_sierrahills

"Perth Prison in Scotland, where he spent six years in jail for indecent exposure"

Seems like more than some get for manslaughter.

Starshiprarity
Starshiprarity

Kudos to him. I'm of the same opinion that clothes are barely necessary in modern society- especially with the artificial environments we spend most of our time in. I'd do the same but I have better things to do than sit in jail.

Freeopinions
Freeopinions

Sigh.

The religious folk say we were created in the image and likeness of God, but yet, the naked human body is an abomination. What does that make the original? If God were to (finally) appear before us and he was naked as a jaybird, would we from then on be arrested for wearing trousers?

David A. Gilbert
David A. Gilbert

This is actually a pretty compelling question.  Since it is only original sin that gave us modesty in the first place, it seems reasonable that were God to appear on earth in person, he would be nude.

The scandal, I like it.

Pacific Vacuum
Pacific Vacuum

 in many, if not most places in the world, it gets cold. Clothes are for other purposes than covering up your naughties.

View Minder
View Minder

I ran naked across Stonehenge and all I got was a stern talking to.

All-Nudist.com
All-Nudist.com

Stonehenge isn't in Scotland!  It's ok for men to wear skirts in Scotland but not to show their bare bottoms!  ;-)

Beanybag
Beanybag

It seems like all the witnesses and complainers should be checked into mental institutions. What is so vile about the human body?

pc1397
pc1397

The weeny.

pc1397
pc1397

Or should I say the beanybag?

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

Throwing this man in prison for long sentences is not reasonable.

By all accounts he isn't a sexual predator or even what would be commonly labeled a pervert.

He simply believes in nakedness.

Sure he doesn't fit very well with starched and proper English attitudes, he probably would even run into trouble here.

But give me a break he just needs help figuring out how he can express himself satisfactorily without incurring the wrath of either the public or the courts.

You can do better.

All-Nudist.com
All-Nudist.com

Gary - Mr. Gough does not care to be 'helped' by finding a less controversial way to protest.  He uses nudity, as he says, to make a point about personal freedom as he sees it.  Being 'martyred' is part of his plan and it suits him quite well.  It gets him the attention he craves. 

He has been quoted as saying that he is more free in jail, wrapped in the  self-righteous conviction of his cause, than the the rest of the world is while free and going about their daily lives, doing what they want while obeying social conventions.  He doesn't fear jail and credits it with providing him with even more clarity of thought.The real tragedy here is that his mental state wasn't assessed in the first place to determine whether the court was dealing with a self-styled visionary, an anti-social misfit, or a sick person who needs help.  Having been arrested over 20 times, as has been reported, we would think that someone before now might have raised a question about his mental stability instead of simply locking him up again and again.  But no, everything just got more ridiculous from then on, on both sides.

Choose how you want to see Mr. Gough, but don't make the mistake of thinking that he isn't exactly where he wants to be; free in jail, striking a blow for (in his mind, anyway) freedom.

Silky Johnson
Silky Johnson

What's funny is the prude US would only cite him for public nudity not put him in jail.  He'd just be paying ticket after ticket until he went before the supreme court.

All-Nudist.com
All-Nudist.com

Silky - Mr. Gough's troubles stem more from contempt of court charges than from nudity arrests.  He keeps showing up in court naked, against the magistrate's express order and rules of the court.

It's true that in most US places it could be a simple fine; it could also be a sex offence resulting in being listed as a sex offender for life.  Either way, if you showed up in court naked you would likely be charged with contempt of court and jailed until you learned to behave, the same as if it was for a traffic ticket and you appeared nude.  That is Mr. Gough's position.

The mainstream press has done a terrible job of presenting a full picture of this situation, resulting in a lot of misinformation being promulgated by those with an agenda to push.  Everybody's got an opinion but few have enough fact to base them on.

Margaritae
Margaritae

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dermutt
dermutt

This man has been doing this decades with hardly any "wrath", perhaps he should stay out of Scotland, they seem to have a particular problem with it.

All-Nudist.com
All-Nudist.com

He does it in Scotland because it's less likely he'd be arrested elsewhere and if he wasn't arrested, no one would notice his crusade for personal freedom.  

Keithnvf
Keithnvf

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