The residents of Fontmell Magna Nudist Colony breathed a huge collective sigh of relief today as Edmondsham magistrates dismissed the case of Mr Bob Apparel the so-called "clothed gardener" and ordered him to "remove all articles of clothing with immediate effect".
Mr Apparel's lawyers had brought the case on his behalf after Fontmell Magna Local District Council had earlier ruled that his insitence on wearing several items of clothing constituted "reckless behavious likely to lead to a breach of the peace." Acting for Mr Apparel, Mr Peter Burke had argued that his client was entitled to wear clothing under various Dorset Safety at Work Codes of Practice, noting particularly that age together with the "natural effects of gravity" had put parts of his person at serious risk when operating heavy machinery.
The Court heard that Mr Apparel (68) had shocked other community members when he decided in late November 2016 to start wearing clothes whilst gardening and cleaning windows in strict contravention of the community's "no clothes" policy. "It started as an occasional thing" lawyers for Fontmell Magna Local District Council told magistrates, "but soon developed into full scale dressing even in public places". "Upstanding citizens as well as the women of the community were understandably upset and even offended by his appearance", Mr Ian Cumming-Cummings continued, "no one expects to be confronted with a fully clothed man in his garden in the middle of the day and yet this is precisely the horror to which Mr Apparel chose to subject his neighbours". It was alleged that Mr Apparel had even put on additional clothing outside the Fontmell Magna branch of the Threadbone Extra Supermarket chain and had tied himself to a trolley in protest. Mr Apparel (wearing a small spandex posing pouch in defiance of an earlier court order) denied the allegation.
Dismissing claims that his client had indulged in deliberately provocative behaviour, Mr Burke countered that "In a free market economy anyone should be allowed to privatise their privates if they so wish" and reiterated that Mr Apparel had genuinely feared for the safety of his personage which doctors could prove had "lost a measure of elasticity and hung unusually low for a man of his age" . However, the court heard from expert witness Kit Gear that neither pruning shears nor a squeegee constituted "heavy machinery" under the terms of the Code; nor did Mr Apparel's garden qualify as a designated workplace.
Pronouncing judgement, magistrates' chair Mrs Amanda J Threadbone found in favour of the District Council arguing that any other judgement would set dangerous precedents which were almost bound to be followed. "If we do not draw a line here, who knows where we will find ourselves? Sunbathing in overcoats? Swimming in dungarees? Showering in onesies? It would be sheer madness!" She then ordered Mr Apparel to undress and bound him over to keep the peace. Hearing a plea of clemency on Mr Apparel's behalf, Mrs Threadbone then agreed that, in view of his age and the current cold snap, he should be given a week in which to acclimatise himself.
ABOVE: The Threadbone Extra Fontmell Magna in front of which Mr Apparel allegedly put on clothes; BELOW; Mr Apparel at work in his garden wearing the offending garments.