A threat by the man known as the Naked Rambler to return to Scotland has seen him branded “the most selfish man in Britain”.
Former marine Stephen Gough has spent much of the past six years in Scottish prisons for nudity-related offences including breach of the peace and contempt of court.
Now back at his home in Eastleigh, Hampshire, the 54-year-old is subject to an anti-social behaviour order banning him from going nude in public places in England and Wales.
Following a recent appearance at Winchester Crown Court, where he denied breaching the order, Mr Gough gave a first hint that he could once again venture north of the border.
He said: “The ASBO doesn’t cover Scotland. Could be, if it wasn’t revoked down here, I’d be freer there.”
That threat has left Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser staggered and fearful that another ramble north of the border could set of yet another chain of arrests and imprisonments to the taxpayers’ cost.
Mr Gough’s stubborn refusal to remain clothed is thought to have cost Scottish taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds.
“Stephen Gough wants to escape the clutches of the wicked English who won’t tolerate his nakedness in public,” Mr Fraser blogged on the Think Scotland website.
“In Scotland, free from the ASBO placed upon him by a court in Southampton, Mr Gough hopes to find a greater freedom to express himself, as he seeks to walk around naked.”
Mr Fraser said: “If Stephen Gough really wants to change attitudes to public nudity there is a well-trodden path he can follow.
“He can campaign for a change in the law, lobby policy-makers and raise public awareness. Instead, he takes the easy, lazy option of forcing his stance on everyone else. Is there no end to his selfishness?”
Mr Gough could not be contacted for comment.