6th August 1934

Nude sunbathers sentenced to eight days’ hard labour

The law over public nudity can be difficult to understand. Although there are no laws specifically outlawing being naked in public, nudists may be prosecuted if they cause offence. Thus, it would be possible to be naked on a secluded beach, minding your own business, and end up breaking the law simply though the fact that someone else came into view, even if you were unaware that they were present.

Stripping off

Jersey doesn’t have any designated naturist beaches, but this hasn’t stopped some bathers stripping off over the years. In 1934, the Northern Whig reported that “two girls whose only apparel when bathing at Portelet, Jersey… consisted of caps and shoes were… each fined £3 or eight days’ hard labour for bathing in the nude”.

The girls, both in their early 20s, were artists models who had travelled to Jersey from London, and had been spotted by a local who had watched them come out of the water, naked, and pose for a man who had taken their photo. They later claimed that they didn’t know the photographer but thought the photo would be a nice reminder of their trip. The photographer claimed not to have realised that they were close enough to the camera to be seen in the photo. His film was confiscated.

In 2007, the BBC reported that “in a non-scientific poll of more than six hundred people, 85% were in favour of designating one of Jersey’s beaches for naturists, compared with just 8% who were against it (the remaining 7% didn’t mind either way)”.


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