On 26 August 2003 the Naked Rambler Steve Gough was released from Inverness Prison where he had spent a week in solitary confinement following his arrest for a breach of the peace by walking unclothed in Inverness. Gough is attempting to walk naked from Land’s End to John O’Groats in a protest in what he regards as outmoded laws on nudity and public decency (see No 242). He was released on bail after promising to commit no more offences, but indicated outside court that he would continue his attempted walk in the buff, but as far as possible out of the public eye.
Hard on the heels of Lord Steel’s defence of the Scottish Parliamentary Body in relation to the ever-increasing costs of the Scottish Parliament buildings at Holyrood (below, No 241) came a report from his successor as Presiding Officer, George Reid, indicating that ongoing problems in the construction process meant that the complex would not be finished until July 2004, with cost implications predicted to take the final bill beyond the £400 million mark. The heart of the problem appears to be a lightwell over an access area, which has overhead glazing to illuminate interior offices. The window contractor has been unable to instal windows quickly enough because the glazing has to be made blast-proof, and as a result the lightwell area cannot be accessed for the glazier to complete its work there. There are knock-on effects elsewhere in the project. However, MSP offices will be ready in November 2003, and the debating chamber and media tower in March 2004. A cap on consultants’ fees, at £4.6 million, has also been agreed. 25 August 2003.
On 16 June 2003 Mr Steve Gough (44), a former truck driver and Royal Marine from Hampshire, set off to walk from Lands End to John o’Groats wearing only a bush hat, a ruck sack, socks and hiking boots. He claims to be exercising his right of freedom of expression and to be protesting against what he regards as outdated laws treating nudity as indecency. He has been arrested several times but released on bail during the progress of his journey through both England and Scotland. He arrived in Scotland on 20 July, and spent a night in the cells at Duns in Berwickshire before being released without charge. On 31 July, he was arrested at Selkirk and sent to a psychiatric hospital, before being pronounced sane and released. On 3 August he was arrested north of Selkirk, after police realised he had failed to answer bail at a court in Cornwall. Cornish police made a 1,400-mile round trip to escort him back. Bailed again at Selkirk Sheriff Court, he sought to resume his journey by back roads and remote areas, but was arrested again on the Forth Road Bridge on 11 August. He was granted bail at Perth Sheriff Court on 15 August, but on 19 August made another appearance (clothed), in Inverness Sheriff Court, where he was charged with breach of the peace for walking naked at Stadium Road, Inverness, on 18 August, exposing his private parts to the public. His arrest (his eleventh in all to date) had followed a complaint by a passing woman motorist. Gough made no plea but asked for a week’s continuation of the case, to allow preparation of human rights arguments. Sheriff Robert Vaughan refused a request for bail, noting that this was a third court appearance in Scotland within a very short time and that there were two recent bail orders in force, and remanded Gough in custody in Inverness prison for a week.