A NATURIST accused of behaving indecently while gardening in the nude has been cleared.

Donald Sprigg, 63, has now vowed never to garden naked again.

The father-of-four, of City Bank View, Cirencester, did not dispute that he enjoyed the freedom of pottering about in his back garden naked but he vehemently denied a neighbour’s claim that he performed indecent acts.

And after hearing the prosecution evidence, Cheltenham magistrates decided there was no case to answer. They quashed the three charges against Mr Sprigg of using insulting behaviour which caused harassment, alarm or distress.

The case was brought against him after neighbour Theresa Fairchild said that she had watched him from the balcony of her first floor flat in January naked and performing the indecent act. She had seen him working naked except for gardening gloves in his garden again in March. On that occasion her partner took photographs.

Ms Fairchild, who said her homes was 150 yards from Mr Sprigg’s garden, said she was "gobsmacked" when she first saw him naked on a January afternoon. She had only moved into the property the previous month.

"I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing," she told the court.

She said that on March 20 she saw Mr Sprigg naked in the garden again, although this time he was wearing gardening gloves and appeared to be dealing with a bag of compost.

Mr Sprigg dismissed their allegations as "a total load of rubbish"and said he had simply been potting sweetpeas.

He said he had been a naturist for 30 years, and had lived in the property for 20 years with no previous complaints.

Throwing out all charges, the magistrates said they found the prosecution evidence "vague and weak".

A delighted Mr Sprigg, a dairy crest milk tanker driver, said justice had prevailed.

He added: "This has been a very worrying time for me and my wife but I am very grateful that we have had the full support of the family."