The Naked Rambler Stephen Gough
Stephen Gough the Naked Rambler from the UK has spent most of the past 10 years of his life behind bars, much of in solitary confinement, after repeated arrests for his refusal to wear clothes in public. His recent release in July of 2012 saw two days of freedom before complaints from the public led to his arrest in the centre of a busy Scottish town. Now free he is continuing his journey South across the Scottish Borders.
Stephen Gough 53, an ex-marine soldier sees his nakedness as a fight for individual freedom, his simple goal to exercise his human tight not to wear clothes.
His recent arrest comes just days after being released from his latest stretch in prison, a yearlong sentence for breach of the peace; a public order offence, and contempt of court, again for refusing to wear clothes in the dock.
Gough had an uneventful childhood and early life. Originally from Hampshire in England, Gough is one of seven children. His mother was a housewife, his father a carpenter. On leaving school Gough entered the British Royal Marines, where he served for a number of years before marrying and moving to Canada.
Gough and his wife had two children and he started working as a truck driver. Shortly after moving back to the UK Stephen started to experiment by removing his clothes for periods at home; often when relatives or family friends came to visit.
It was during this period that his marriage began to break down, his wife found it difficult to come to terms with her husband’s new found freedoms and interest. Stephen's children too found it difficult to cope with a father who increasingly wanted to conduct his public life naked.
Gough Has Been Arrested More Than 30 Times
Gough embarked upon his first full length naked trek of Britain in 2003, walking the length of Britain, 600 miles from Land's End in Southern England to John O'Groats in the North of Scotland.
This ramble was not uneventful however, and saw him being arrested several times wearing only his rucksack, boots and socks.
In 2005 he attempted a second trek of the same route, this time with his new girlfriend Melanie Roberts, both naked. Again there were several arrests on route, including being arrested 20 times in Scotland, mostly being immediately released, but was given a 3 months sentence for appearing naked before a judge. His walk was again completed; but after boarding a flight to return homewards Gough undressed while airborne; police were called to arrest him as the aircraft touched down at the airport, and he was taken back to Edinburgh where he was given a 7 month sentence.
On completion of this sentence he was again arrested with 60 seconds as he stepped out of jail- again given a custodial sentence. This was to be a pattern repeated many time over the course of the next five years, with Gough being released and rearrested almost immediately. He has so far been unable to travel more than 30 miles before he ends up again behind bars.
Stephen Gough refuses to wear clothes in prison either, he is held in solitary confinement for his own protection, and allowed to exercise within the main halls of prisons after other prisoners have been locked up for the evening.Being naked in Scotland or England is not an offence per se, but is linked to a public order offence, if the intention is deemed to deliberately cause distress, alarm or outrage.Stephen Gough does not see himself as a naturist, he is not interested in confining his nudity to selected beaches or country retreats, instead he wants to challenge public attitudes an push down barriers towards public views on the naked human body.
He sees his "vocation" as his life goal, and has no intention of stepping down, or replacing his pants.The authorities have a big problem on their hands. The severity of his crime is not commensurate with the length of time he has spent in prison, especially given that he has spent six years in solitary confinement.There are individuals who have committed much more serious violent assaults and even murder who have not been dealt the punishment that Stephen has endured.
Antagonists argue that the people need protection from the fear and alarm that that a naked man in public may cause.
Gough has also cost the court and judicial system a huge financial bill for court proceedings and his upkeep while incarcerated. Judges recently ordered a mental health assessement, but he has failed to cooperate with the authorities.
Now free he is continuing his naked trek South through the Scottosh borders on his way back to England