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Turkish Awakening

Behind the Scenes of Modern Turkey

By Alev Scott

From the European buzz of modern-day Constantinople to the Arabic-speaking towns of the south-east, Turkish Awakening investigates mass migration, urbanisation and economics in a country moving swiftly towards a new position on the world stage. Born in London to a Turkish mother and British father, Alev Scott moved to Istanbul to discover what it means to be Turkish in a country going through rapid political and social change, …


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-March 24 2015 -'Naked Rambler' Stephen Gough's European appeal rejected:

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Stephen Gough case tests the boundaries of free speech

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The Telegraph

Matthew Scott

My client Stephen Gough, a former Royal Marine better known as the Naked Rambler, has now been in prison, largely in a segregation unit, for the best part of nine years.

Once the remission rules are taken into account, that is the equivalent of a sentence of nearly 18 years. It is about what you would expect to get if you committed a rape of an eight year old child. By my very rough calculations the cost of imprisoning him, ignoring altogether legal and police costs, has been about £330,000. His offence has been that he won't wear clothes in public.

Who is being the most ridiculous here: Mr Gough, or the Crown Prosecution Service?

Click here for link to full Matthew Scott article : Previously on barristerblogger by Matthew Scott

Latest Comment on Court News 13:35, 10 June 2015

Naked Rambler Stephen Gough - Scottish Borders October 9th 2012 - Day 4 of Naked Walk to Freedom Image courtesy of John Hamilton

Latest Article from Scottish Daily Mail  8 August 2015

The Scottish Daily Mail - Is the Naked Rambler a Martyr or a Madman? by Jonathan Brocklebank

IN A FEW days a middle-aged man who has spent almost all of the last decade behind bars will walk free from prison and try to climb into the passenger seat of a waiting car with a friend at the wheel. If he manages that, the car will set off on a 15 minute journey to the home of the passenger’s 89-year-old mother in Eastleigh, Hampshire, where he hopes to spend a few days. If all goes to plan, Stephen Gough will then set off on his travels once more. Within an hour or two perhaps, he will be arrested and thrown in the cells again. When you absolutely refuse to put any clothes on, that is how life goes. For the 55-year-old ‘freedom fighter’ known across Britain as the Naked Rambler, the windows of true freedom have been pitifully brief since the day in 2006 when he visited the toilet on a flight from Southampton to Edinburgh, removed his clothes and returned to his seat naked. When a flight attendant invited him to put his clothes back on, he declined. As a result he was met on arrival in Edinburgh by police who arrested him. Gough has declined every request from anyone in authority to get dressed ever since, taking his life story far beyond the realms of mere eccentricity. It is now a tragedy. For the last two years he has been subject of a bespoke Asbo making it a criminal offence for him to display his genitals or buttocks anywhere in public in Hampshire. In effect, the Asbo sets a trap which will snap shut every time Gough leaves Winchester Prison in Hampshire, for he has no intention of leaving it with his clothes on. As his barrister Matthew Scott puts it: ‘One of the very few people in the country who actually wants to wander naked around the highways and byways of Hampshire is also the only man in the country who commits a crime by doing so. ’Gough’s dedication to the cause of imposing his nakedness on others, whether they like it or not, has cost him much more than his freedom. It has cost him his relationship  with his daughter Kiana and son Yarin, now in their teens, for whom he has not provided, and with their mother. His own mother, Nora, wishes he would stop his campaign of civil  disobedience and even dedicated naturists have begged him to compromise. The Naked Rambler will not hear of it. Society is wrong, he contends, not him. Besides, he is fond of asking: ‘What significant change has ever been accomplished without those involved being stubborn in their pursuit of their goals? It’s never happened.’ The significant change which Gough seeks to bring about is to be allowed to ‘express himself’ by being naked in public where and when he chooses. ‘I stand for freedom,’ he claims. Yet his stand is so hardline that freedom is exactly what he is denied. Such inflexibility gives rise to a highly troubling moral and legal conundrum. Can it be right that Stephen Gough’s cumulative jail sentences for the crime of being naked are more severe than the punishments handed down to armed robbers, paedophiles and rapists? Can it be right that an uncompromising naturist, with no criminal history unconnected with his nudity, should be held in virtual solitary confinement for 23-and-a-half hours a day every day as a result of his refusal to wear clothes even in jail? Some argue that Gough is choosing to be treated this way. He could end it any time he wanted to simply by cooperating with his jailers, the courts and the police. Others, such as barrister Mr Scott, suggest it is they who should reconsider their position. He says that, once remission rules are taken into account, the jail time served by Gough is the equivalent of an 18-year sentence. ‘It is about what you would expect to get if you committed a rape of  an eight-year-old child. By my very rough calculations the cost of imprisoning him, ignoring altogether legal and police costs, has been  about £330,000. His offence has been that he won’t wear clothes in public. ‘Who is being the most ridiculous here: Mr Gough, or the Crown  Prosecution Service?’ It is a difficult question. There is a fundamentalism to Gough’s position which many find disturbing. Referring to those who have  complained about his nakedness, Gough wrote in a recent letter from prison to his naturist friend Richard Collins: ‘In my view, all those that complained have mental problems  in that they are prejudiced, which prevented them from seeing the  innocence of the reality (i.e. me, simply being naked) that confronted them. The real issue is that the legal process should be robust enough in its sifting out of irrelevant complaints. But it is not, due to its own inability to be objective.’ For Gough, then, members of the public offended by his behaviour have ‘mental problems’ while the law is not ‘objective’ enough to disregard their complaints. It would seem the Naked Rambler may labour under objectivity issues too. It was in the summer of 2003 that Gough first came to wide public notice when he set off to walk naked from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. By then the ex-marine had split from the mother of his children, Alison Ward, over arguments about his trenchant naturist views. She later said: ‘I didn’t want his insistence on going naked to impact on the children – for friends to stop coming round to play and for children to tease them.

‘I told him, You can’t see the children’

‘When I told Steve, “You can’t see the kids if you’re going to go naked”, he said, “Right, I won’t see them”.’ But Gough was largely seen as a harmless British eccentric – the latest in a long line – as, rucksack on his back, boots on his feet and nothing on in between, he trudged through the countryside, chatting to anyone who took an interest. Sometimes, when the police stopped him, he would explain what he was doing and put his clothes on if they ordered him to. They would come off again a few hundred yards  further on. Only when Gough reached Scotland did the real problems begin. As he progressed north he was picked up several times and finally convicted of breach of the peace, resulting in a four-month stay in Inverness Prison.

Does obstinacy merit wretched existence in jail?

‘Cost of keeping him in prison has been £330,000’

When he was released, he pressed on, finally reaching John o’ Groats  on January 22, 2004, where he was met by a massive media scrum and staff from a local hotel bearing champagne. ‘It was a great feeling,’ said Gough. ‘I thought that was the end.’ Perhaps it should have been. He had certainly offended some on his travels, but he had won admirers too and sparked a nationwide debate which attracted much sympathy for his position. What was intrinsically wrong, he asked, with appearing in public in the same naked state as that in which everyone is born? Why do we stigmatise nudity so? Gough’s problem as he returned home to Eastleigh and tried to write a book about the experience was the voice inside him which told him he had compromised his ideals. ‘Why did I put on clothes when the police stopped me?’ he asked himself. ‘That was wrong; it defeated the whole point.’ Ever since, Gough has refused to compromise. As he puts it today: ‘Little pockets of freedom are all well and good, but it’s like having an inconsistent parent that allows you to be a certain way, at certain times, but then turns the other way and punishes you for exactly the same behaviour.’ His solution was to do the walk  all over again – this time without compromise. There was another difference too. He was accompanied on this walk by his new girlfriend, Melanie Roberts, another committed naturist. Once again, it was Scotland which proved the hardest-going in terms of police reaction – and which exposed significant differences in the two naturists’ approach to the authorities. When they were arrested in  Edinburgh, Miss Roberts put clothes on and admitted breach of the peace. She felt she had made her point. Gough refused to dress, denied the charge and spent two weeks in Saughton Prison. There was a further five months in Inverness Prison for him before he and Miss Roberts were re-united to complete the journey to John o’ Groats in February 2006. Even then, it was not over. Only his romance with his naked  rambling partner was. The pair broke up in England just before Gough returned to Scotland for a series of court dates – which he knew he would attend naked. The ‘cause’ had trumped another relationship. ‘It was very sad,’ Miss Roberts said later. ‘Steve knew he would be going to prison for a very long time. We finished the relationship before he got on the plane.’ It was on this journey that Gough stripped off, subjecting  fellow passengers to his naked form in a confined space where they couldn’t avoid it. Antics like this, says Andrew Welch, spokesman for the group British Naturism, polarise opinions on Gough even among the most ardent nudists. ‘Those kinds of acts are what have made people think that he’s being unnecessarily insensitive, disrespectful and controversial. They have raised this to more than just  a man deciding to revert to his  natural state, I suppose.’ But he adds: ‘There are lots of people who think that we need freedom fighters. Unless somebody pushes the boundaries we’re never going to get there.’ Nevertheless, almost nobody believes Gough should have  sacrificed so much in his campaign of civil disobedience from which  he now seems unable to extricate himself. Since 2006, Gough has been free for no more than a few days at a time. Through a litany of court appearances he refused to get dressed, resulting in almost constant incarceration in Scotland until 2012. Every time he finished his sentence, he would walk out of the prison gates naked, refuse to put on any clothes and be arrested again. The cycle was broken only when police, at last, decided to turn a blind eye after his release from Saughton. When he stepped over the Border a few days later, he was England’s problem. And so he remains. In 2013, he was made the subject of the punitive Asbo, specifically banning him from being naked in public in Hampshire. He breached it, of course. In April last year, he strolled out of Winchester Prison wearing only shoes and was promptly re-arrested. He is expected to complete his sentence for that offence next  Friday. In the meantime, an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights has failed. Is there any way out of the dismal cycle? His friend Richard Collins  certainly wants to find one. He said: ‘I have offered to pick Steve up from outside Winchester Prison and drive him to our new home. ‘It’s got two acres, an outdoor swimming pool and is within nude walking distance of a naturist  beach where he can roam for miles untroubled by anyone. He will be welcome to stay as long as he wants.’ But it appears Gough has taken up another invitation from a different friend. He says that, should his liberty last long enough to walk naked from the prison gates to the car, he will travel to his mother’s home. ‘Beyond that,’ says Gough, ‘my intention is to do as I did on return from Scotland: to go about the local area naked and no doubt it won’t be too long before I am arrested for breach of Asbo, or should I say, alleged breach. ‘In general terms, I’m committed to keep up the pressure.’ No one – not even Gough’s  barrister – denies that he is a very stubborn man. The question is, does his stubbornness merit a wretched and interminable existence in yet another jail? And even if the Naked Rambler does see prison as a price worth paying for his  cause, should we allow him to pay it?