‘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.”