Naked Rambler Jailed

One of the sadder pieces of news in the past couple of days has been the jailing of the ‘naked rambler’ Stephen Gough, given a 12 month sentence by a Glasgow Court for breach of the peace.

I don’t have any particular wish to walk our streets naked myself, our weather seldom tempts me to bare anything, but I find it hard not to agree with Gough’s comment reported by the BBC, that if members of the public were offended by his nakedness then the problem was with them and not with him.

Naked protest (C) 2000, Peter Marshall

In 2000 I photographed a protest for the right to be naked in public outside the Met police HQ at New Scotland Yard.  I don’t think any of the public showed any signs of concern, and most of the police seemed pretty amused by it, although doing what they considered their duty by telling people to cover up – the man below was threatened he would be arrested until he held his hat strategtically over  his penis.

Naked protest (C) 2000, Peter Marshall

More recently I photographed several of the annual naked bike rides through the centre of London – last years had almost a thousand riders, mostly wearing nothing more than a little decorative body paint. It was again an event that caused considerable amusement among spectators. Here are a couple from the 2006 event:

No fumes here (C) 2006 Peter Marshall

WNBR London (C) 2006, Peter Marshall

and one from 2007:

WNBR Lonfon (C) 2007, Peter Marshall

and again from this year:

WNBR (C) 2008, Peter Marshall

We all have bodies, and most of us have nothing very special about ours. Mine I think generally looks better the more it’s covered and I certainly feel more comfortable wearing clothes. But I can’t really think it should be an offence not to do so.


Even where the attempt was to give offence – as in this group of anti-monarchists ‘mooning’ outside Buckingham Palace in 2000.  Here the police did wade in and make an arrest – of a Swedish journalist watching the event who had kept his clothes on, but just happened to wear rather similar ‘Lennon’ style glasses to one of those taking part in the protest.

This event came into my mind last week when the police were insisting that anarchist demonstrators should remove items of clothing – face scarves –  in the demonstration I photographed at Dalston last week,  but here and at Scotland Yard they were attempting to arrest them for not keeping bits on.

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