Celebrity lawyer Nick Freeman: I’m Mr Law, not Mr Loophole

Nick Freeman, The Loophole Lawyer from Mere. Never afraid to court controversy (c) Julian Kronfli

Nick Freeman, The Loophole Lawyer from Mere. Never afraid to court controversy (c) Julian Kronfli - Credit: JULIAN KRONFLI

From David Beckham to Wayne Rooney, Alex Ferguson to Jeremy Clarkson, Van Morrison to Andrew Flintoff, Nick Freeman is known as the Loophole Lawyer when it comes to defending motoring cases

Nick Freeman is the lawyer from Knutsford, Cheshire, who has become a celebrity in his own right for defending the rich and famous, from David Beckham to Sir Alex Ferguson, Jeremy Clarkson to Andrew Flintoff, Van Morrison to Wayne Rooney. His Manchester-based firm of solicitors, Freeman and Co, specialises in motoring cases including drink-driving, drug-driving and speeding. He’s earned the Mr Loophole tag for his notorious courtroom successes. But in reality, he writes in the August issue of Cheshire Life, they are not loopholes, just law – a law that may protect you one day.

You’re just enjoying your cereal when you hear the thwack of the letterbox as the post thuds through the door. Lying on the mat you spy an ominous envelope. Ripping it open, any chance of finishing your muesli vanishes.

Dispatched by the Central Ticket Office, the post reveals an allegation of speeding. It seems on your way back from a trip to see your mother you were clocked doing 79 mph on the M6. What do you do? Perhaps you’ve already got points on your licence. And even if you haven’t, you don`t have any recollection of going that fast. This could mean court, fines, disqualification... What about your family? Your job? Insurance?

Time to stop and think. After all, as is the case with all allegations of criminal activity, you have a choice. You could admit guilt, mitigate the impact and take your medicine. Or you could seek advice to get an informed position on your case. If you opt for the latter, it may well be that when studying the paperwork your lawyer spots that the prosecuting authorities have messed up. Service of the document issued, so your brief might tell you, is defective.

As a result, you’re told the law immediately gifts you a defence in court. In fact, the statute actually compels that, because with this type of botched paperwork you ‘shall not be convicted’. Even if you had put your foot down. But hang about: should you take the lifeline?

Your reason for acquittal will have nothing to do with whether you were speeding or not. The presumption of innocence is a central plank of criminal law, which means the prosecution must prove their case beyond reasonable doubt, which they can’t do if procedures are flawed. So, to repeat. Do you take the lifeline? Well, it’s not for me to tell you what you should do. That’s not the job of the criminal defence lawyer. We dish up your options. After that pal, it’s your choice.

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If you have a problem with the morality of ‘getting off’ when you think you shouldn’t, then it’s your call. But from a legal standpoint, the case is potted. Rules are rules. If the ball is offside, the goal doesn’t count. It’s why I have no problem with practising road traffic law (indeed all aspects of criminal law). Yet whenever I secure acquittals for my clients – or as newspapers would have it, ‘get people off’ – the narrative changes. I’m guilty by association. Even though sometimes it’s the police or prosecution who haven’t done their job properly, while I have fulfilled mine to the letter.

You see, Mr and Mrs Angry of Twittersville aren’t interested in criminal law. Or the fact that if it isn’t followed correctly, whatever the charge, there’s a risk innocent people will be convicted. And so I’m dismissed as a courtroom chancer – the saviour of the speeders and drunks who turn our roads into blood-soaked killing fields.

Perhaps it spoils the fight if my critics drill down into the small print. But permit me a quick lesson in entry-level law: I don’t give the defendant licence to walk. It’s down to the bench to agree that the law parliament has enacted hasn’t been adhered to. All I do is argue the defence to the best of my ability and the prosecution present theirs. It’s for a judge or magistrates to determine guilt or innocence.

But the brickbats rain down – especially if my client is a celebrity. Why should those with money or success not be entitled to the same law as everyone else? Why should these defendants take the bullet – even when the police or prosecution have erred. Such a proposition is ludicrous. The law has to be steadfast.

Meanwhile, the inference is that in doing my job I condone the alleged transgressions. The reality is that as a decent member of society I abhor dangerous driving. In fact, I campaign vociferously for the drink-drive limit to be reduced and for hands-free mobile phones to be banned from vehicles. Countless police officers have congratulated me for highlighting flaws in the system. Remember, every time I expose a loophole, I’m dishing it up on a plate for the CPS to close.

If all this sounds like a whine about the hard knocks of being a defence lawyer you’d be mistaken. I am entirely comfortable with what I do. I practice the law as it stands in the statute. If the baying public, so quick to launch vitriolic missiles into cyberspace, want to do something about the law, then tell the government. I have no intention of being muzzled. I’m not a hypocrite for speaking out on road safety – as I was accused of in last month’s Cheshire Life when I spoke out about better legislation for cyclists.

When it comes to an opinion, you’re entitled to yours and me to mine. When it comes to crime neither matters. It’s only ever the law that counts.

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