Naked Rambler refuses to dress for court.. again

THE Naked Rambler refused to put clothes on for a court appearance again today, a day after senior judges ruled human rights law did not entitle him to appear naked in court.

Stephen Gough was not brought into the dock from cells at Edinburgh Sheriff Court because he would not get dressed.

It was left to his defence agent John Goode to enter a not guilty plea in advance of his trial next week.

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Gough, of Eastleigh in Hampshire, is charged with committing a breach of the peace by being naked in a public place at St Leonards Hill in Edinburgh on October 15.

On Wednesday, five judges at the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh rejected Gough’s appeal against contempt findings.

Gough, 47, claimed he had been denied a fair hearing by an independent tribunal after sheriffs held him in contempt of court for appearing naked in court.

He also maintained that to appear naked in court was a right guaranteed under freedom of expression according to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill, said: “If he seeks to express the view that an individual has the right to be naked at all times and in all places, there is nothing to prevent his doing so orally or in writing while remaining properly dressed.

“The court is entitled to enforce standards of decency and decorum in the dress and demeanour of those who appear before it, whether as witnesses, lawyers, jurors or accused.”

Ex-Royal Marine Gough has twice walked naked from Lands’ End to John O’Groats, but his progress was interrupted by a series of arrests.

He was found guilty of contempt of court by four different sheriffs at Edinburgh Sheriff Court after either appearing naked or refusing to come into court dressed. Two of the sheriffs jailed him for three months and two months respectively and the other two cases have still to be sentenced. He is appealing the sentences.

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His defence counsel told appeal judges that being naked in public was a fundamental freedom and said appearing in court in the nude was not an act calculated to “offend the authority and dignity of the court”.

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