Greta is a nudist and campaigner for human rights. She has decided to undertake a sponsored 50 mile walk along the famous beauty spot, the Pennine Way in Northern England, naked. She intends to walk naked as she believes the right to be naked in public is a fundamental human right. All money raised by the walk is to be to be given to the human rights organisation, Liberty. Greta has raised £50,000 in sponsorship. When she contacted the Northumbria police to inform them of her sponsored walk they warned her that if she walks naked she will be arrested as her actions will be indecent. Greta was shocked as she sees nothing indecent about the naked body and regards the human form as beautiful in its natural state.
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- Suitability of proceedings against the Chief Constable of Northumbria in respect of her treatment by the police
It would not be advisable for Greta to commence legal proceedings against the Chief Constable of Northumbria as the actions of the police were well within the applicable law and the Human Rights Act of 1998. The police were well within their rights to arrest Greta on the charge of indecent conduct in public given that the Pennine Way is a public trail and she might have caused alarm to other users who might think of public nudity as offensive. However, she can start legal proceeding against the police for improper treatment during her arrest or for not being detained in segregated quarters on account of her nakedness (Fox-Decent, 2012). She could potentially start legal proceeding against the Chief Constable on the basis that the Pennine way is an isolated trail at many points and that she was arrested at an isolated location. She could argue on the grounds that there were no road users on the trail at the time of her arrest, which might erode the grounds of arrest for public indecency. She could also argue that the arrest infringed on her right to express her belief in the inoffensiveness of the naked human body, which is protected under the article on freedom of expression (EHRC, 2000).
- Convention rights that might be applicable
The convention rights that would be applicable to Greta’s case include the right to freedom of expression. She could argue that it is her right to express her belief in the inoffensiveness of the naked human body and that her arrest impinged on this fundamental right. However, she would have to prove that her public nudity did not interfere with the rights of others and that the police acted outside their duty to maintain law and order as well as to protect the public (Singh, 2013). Article 8 of the convention might also be applicable to Greta’s case, where she could argue that her decision to walk naked in public pertained to her private life and the police had no right to intervene. Article 10 of the convention might be applicable to Greta’s case on the grounds that the UK is a democratic society and that she had the right to express her beliefs in public as defined in this article. However, the police might use the second part of Article 10 as their defense claiming that they were ensuring public safety and preventing disorder by arresting Greta.
- Remedies available to Greta
The Case of Gough Vs The United Kingdom, heard by the European Court on Human Rights and decided in October 2014 was decided in favor of the UK based on the applicant’s repeated offences of public nudity and arrests for disturbing peace in Scotland. There is a high likelihood that Greta’s case would follow the same course if she repeats he offence. However, it might be advisable for Greta to seek other acceptable ways of expressing her belief in the inoffensiveness of the naked human body (Amos, 2013). There are numerous legal avenues for expressing her views including petitions and demonstrations that are legal. In terms of proceeding with her sponsored walk, Great could liaise with the authorities to clear the road for her walk as it is in support of a charity. By basing her case on the fact that it was in aid of a charity, Greta has a higher likelihood of being allowed to proceed with her walk. This is viable humanitarian grounds for her to embark on her nude walk as compared to the reasons provided under the convention that might not favor Greta’s nude walk.
Amos, M., 2013. Transplanting Human Rights Norms: The Case of the United Kingdom’s Human Rights Act. Human Rights Quarterly, (2), 386-407.
Equality and Human Rights Commission., 2000. The Human Rights Act 1998. London UK.
Fox-Decent, E., 2012. Contextual constitutionalism after the UK Human Rights Act 1998. University Of Toronto Law Journal, (1), 133-150.
Singh, R., 2013. The moral force of the United Kingdom’s human rights act. New Zealand Journal of Public And International Law, 11(1), 39-53.