A HAMPSHIRE man dubbed the Naked Rambler has tasted his first day of freedom after six years in prison for refusing to wear clothes and he is of course in the nude.

Former Royal Marine Stephen Gough, 53, from Eastleigh , has vowed to continue walking around Britain with no clothes on - and plans to head south.

Gough, who has been convicted 17 times in 10 years, said his time behind bars had “flown by” but added he was looking forward to seeing his two teenage children for the first time in years.

Gough, who has been sentenced numerous times for breaches of the peace, was spoken to by officers when he was freed from Perth Prison yesterday in Scotland but was allowed to go on his way in an apparent shift in police policy.

On previous occasions he has been immediately arrested by officers waiting at the gates, but yesterday he walked free, despite being naked.

He said: "My opinion is that the police have thought 'the guy's not going to give up so let's have a think about it'. Something has changed and it is good news for me."

Gough was jailed for a breach of the peace and contempt of court- after he appeared in a court naked.

Police last night confirmed they had decided to adopt a different stance towards the naked rambler after holding talks with him.

Chief Inspector Andy McCann, of Tayside Police, in Scotland, said: "Tayside Police has a duty to uphold the law but it also has a responsibility to act in the public interest.

"We have been working to resolve this impasse. We hope that by exercising some discretion we can find a more satisfactory conclusion for all concerned."

Gough became known as the Naked Rambler after he tried to walk unclothed from Land's End to John O'Groats in 2004. He set off again in 2005 and was repeatedly arrested once he reached Scotland.

It has been estimated the cost involved in repeatedly arresting, prosecuting and jailing Gough over the past decade has been about £500,000.