So Stephen Gough is back in the papers.. For those of who may not have heard of him, he is the naked rambler. Well according to the BBC News Website they state that he was fined £1800 for walking around naked in the Hampshire area.. which has been waived in lieu of his time in custody.
The District Judge Calloway said this about the case, that there were “elements of the defendant as an exhibitionist”.
Stephen Gough’s lawyer claims that his client thought it was a breach of his Human Rights not to allow him to walk around naked. The lawyer said, his client feels that it a breach of his right to freedom of expression.
Now I don’t know about you… but to be perfectly honest, I don’t want to walk out in public and see a man walking around naked in the street with his tackle swinging in the wind. Sorry I am not a prude but the thought of seeing some shrivelled up manhood, due to cold weather, does nothing for me at all.
Back in February 2013 a case was heard in the High Court, where the defendant relied heavily on Article 10 of the Human Rights Act and their right to Freedom of Expression.. Lord Justice Tugendhat said in his jugdment:
The right to freedom of expression, whether at common law or under Art 10, is not an absolute right that prevails over all others.
We have laws, which each of us have to abide to.. we can’t just choose and pick what laws we want to abide with, without facing the consequences of being hauled before a court because we decided to break the law.
Now if Mr Gough wants to take himself to the nudist beach in Brighton and walk up and down there with his nikky nakky noos in full view, by all means do so.. I know it is a nudist beach so I don’t bother sitting there… if Mr Gough wants to walk around his own home.. doing the full monty, fine… but come on this guy is breaking the law.. so he needs to be dealt with. The guy is even sticking two fingers up to our judicial system by refusing to wear clothes in a Courtroom.
Freedom of Expression is all well and good but as Lord Justice Tugendhat said it is not an absolute right.
How would people feel, if the drunk driver claimed his Freedom of Expression was being denied because he couldn’t down 18 pints and drive himself home? How would the mother who has seen her child narrowly missed by the speedy motorist feel, because he claimed in court that his rights of being a ‘speed freak’ were being denied? How would the family feel if the burglar who took their prized possessions feel, if the defendant said it was a breach of his Human Rights and his Freedom of Expression, to take stuff that didn’t belong to him, as he was only expressing his greed.
Freedom of Expression, doesn’t just apply to words written down on a piece of paper… it applies to all, it applies to everything we do..
When people claim their right to Freedom of Expression, they always quote Section 1 of Article 10 of the Human Rights Act which states:
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by a public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent states from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema.
What they fail to read and understand is Part 2 which states:
2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for the maintaining of the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
Liberty and their Guide to Human Rights, sums up the act in their final paragraph quite aptly, they say:
The right to freedom of expression in Article 10 is not an absolute right. It is a qualified right which means that formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties may be imposed on the exercise of this right if they are prescribed by law, pursue a legitimate aim and are necessary in a democratic society. This latter condition requires the means employed to be necessary and proportionate to the aim pursued. The legitimate purposes for which freedom of expression can be limited are set out in Article 10(2) set out above (see also section headed ‘A qualified right’ under Article 8).
So Mr Gough, as far as I am concerned you are breaking the law.. you are refusing to abide by the laws on the land and if you want to be free.. then put your bloody clothes on and cover up your nikky nakky noos.