POLICE say they will exercise discretion in their dealings with the man known as the Naked Rambler.

Stephen Gough is expected to arrive in the North-East later this week when he crosses the border from Scotland on his way to see his family in Hampshire.

Last month, the 53-year-old was jailed for five months for a breach of the peace after he told a court he would not cooperate with social workers tasked with assessing his mental health.

Loading article content

He was released early from Saughton prison, in Edinburgh, on Friday and started his walk south.

Northumbria and Durham police said yesterday that the circumstances would dictate what – if any – action would be taken by officers.

North Yorkshire Police said nakedness itself was not a criminal offence.

A spokesman added: “We are prepared to exercise discretion as we do each year during the naked bike ride in York. However, where we have suspicion that a breach of the peace has or may occur, we will take appropriate action to address public concern.”

Mr Gough was last in the region in 2005 during a hike from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

He was arrested in the Yorkshire Dales after complaints were received from people living in Gargrave, near Hawes.

He refused to wear clothes when he appeared before Harrogate magistrates, but was later taken back to Gargrave and allowed to continue on his journey.

The former marine then spent a night at the Tan Hill Inn, in Arkengarthdale, when he and his two travelling companions were offered free accommodation.

A spokesman for the pub confirmed last night that Mr Gough would be welcome back if he passed by.

The rambler has spent much of the past six years in prison for breach of the peace offences and was convicted of the charge last month after walking unclothed near a children’s play park in Dunfermline, Fife.

After his release last week, Lothian and Borders Police said they were willing to exercise discretion in his case if circumstances permitted.

He has been walking about 15 miles each day since his release and is being accompanied by a documentary film crew.