Exclusive: man appears naked in Appeal Court for first time … probably

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By Judge John Hack on

Renowned “naked rambler” lives up to name in bid to overturn ASBO sentence — but sadly its via video link


Stephen Gough made what many observers described as legal history today when he appeared naked in the Court of Appeal.

Sadly Gough — who is more famously known as the Naked Rambler — did not entertain the bench, counsel and public gallery in person. Instead, he was beamed to the Royal Courts of Justice in the bollocky buff via video link from Winchester Prison.

Britain’s most famous rambler was appealing conviction for an anti-social behaviour order that prohibited him from appearing in public without sufficient clothing to cover his genitalia and buttocks. At the time he had been a serving prisoner. He was released from prison naked save for socks and boots, having declined the offer of clothes. He was immediately arrested for being in breach of the order.

Virtually all of that trial was conducted in Gough’s absence because he refused to wear clothes in court. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison — twice as long as his previous sentence. He argued that his rights were infringed by his exclusion from the trial.

Legal Cheek spies at the Court of Appeal reported that the 56-year-old Gough triggered much anxious coughing and foot shuffling has his naked image loomed into view.

“They won’t admit it,” relayed our source, “but counsel along with all the clerks were definitely straining to see if they could catch a glimpse of his manhood.”

Indeed, during a break in the hearing — which was overseen by Lady Justice Rafferty — a court clerk spoke via video link to Gough, asking him to move his chair closer to a table so his manhood would remain obscured.

After retiring for only a few minutes Rafferty dismissed the appeal saying that for the judge to have allowed him to be in court and represent himself naked would have allowed a further breach of the ASBO. For the court to have done that, she said, would have been a “bizarre notion”. Who says senior members of the judiciary are detached from reality …

“The ASBO had been put in place to prohibit the behaviour that the appellant sough to dignify,’ Rafferty ruled. ‘Appearing in court was always open to the appellant had he clothed himself. That he opted to stay out of court was his decision. He can’t now hope his complaint about the consequences that he set in motion will be successful.”

Gough was represented at the Court of Appeal by Matthew Scott of Pump Court Chambers, otherwise known as ‘Barrister Blogger’. Scott argued that the right to participate in a trial was one of the most fundamental at common law and under human rights legislation. But that clearly did cut much ice with the fully robed and wigged bench.

Since 2003, Gough has been arrested dozens of times for public nudity and spent years in prison for simply wanting to feel the wind around his goolies. The former Royal Marine maintains that officialdom’s efforts to force him into clothes are a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, last October judges on the European Court of Human Rights disagreed.