Nick Freeman (born 1956 in Nottingham) is an English solicitor. Freeman is the owner of Manchester-based legal practice Freeman & Co. and is best known as a celebrity defence lawyer, specialising in traffic and speeding offences.
In The Art of the Loophole, published by Coronet, and ghost written by Angela Epstein, Freeman reveals his legal loophole secrets.
Freeman is Jewish and was educated at Uppingham School in Rutland. His father was in retail, but warned him there would not be a business for him to take over. Although harbouring ambitions to become a professional golfer, he was persuaded to study law. Freeman completed his A-levels a year early, and went on to study law at Trent Polytechnic, followed by law school at the College of Law in Chester.
On graduation, Freeman became an Articled Clerk in Nottingham. He won an advocacy competition and was hired as a prosecutor for Greater Manchester Police in 1981. In 1983, he moved to a firm of criminal lawyers in Manchester and was a partner within six months. Aged 42, he left and set up Freeman & Co in Manchester. Freeman gained notoriety for getting acquittals for a number of high profile celebrities and is reputed[who?] to be one of the highest paid lawyers in the UK. Freeman also still handles legal aid work and is on the Legal Services Commission’s specialist fraud panel. In January 2012 he was fined £60 for having a vehicle without a valid MOT.
On 30 October 2006, Freeman and one other man were arrested by Greater Manchester Police at premises in the centre of Manchester and held at a police station. The arrest was for suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by encouraging a client to lie under oath, and the arrest was on behalf of an investigation being undertaken by Gwent Police. Freeman denied the allegations, and after an extended release on bail, no charges were brought against him after it emerged that he had not spoken to the client.
The client never meets Freeman before the case as he does not want to be compromised by any extraneous detail a defendant might reveal to him. The first handshake usually happens minutes after the case has ended.
Freeman's knowledge of motoring law often exposes police officers not following the legal process, identifying discrepancies in the evidence or shortcomings in procedures leading up to the charges - establishing that inadequate statutory warnings were given before blood or breath tests were taken.
- A motorcyclist was acquitted of a 132 mph speeding charge when Freeman quoted case law from 1922.
- Ashley Fitton, was cleared of drunk-driving based on the defence of coercion from the Criminal Justice Act 1925, claiming she was terrified she would be hurt by her husband if she did not drive him.
- Freeman "defended a businessman who had crashed his car and was taken to hospital seriously injured", and who was over the drink-drive limit, and was acquitted as "the relevant legislation says that the blood must be taken by someone who is not associated with the driver's care. In this case, it was taken by a surgeon directly involved, and so the man was acquitted."
As to the ethics of what he does, he comments:
|“||Morally, I can't [justify it], but ethically, I can. My job is to give my clients the best defence I can. That is the job of every defence lawyer. I can't pick and choose who I defend based on my opinion; that would mean I was judging them, and that would be a dereliction of my duty. If I repeatedly identify shortcomings in police procedures, then perhaps we will end up with better standards in policing and then we will all be safer on the roads because people will not take chances. Until then, it is my job to identify inadequate policing and procedures. I want to make one thing clear, however. I do not condone drunk-driving or irresponsible driving of any kind. And where I successfully defend clients I will often take them to one side and give them a polite ticking-off, tell them they have been very lucky and advise them to use that luck by not transgressing again.||”|
In July 2012 he was condemned for "sharp practice" in the case of Mr Zafar Ali of Sudbury Hill, Wembley, by Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen's Bench Division, who stated that Freeman's methods were the type of thing that the High Court wanted "to see stamped out".
His first high profile case was that of Sir Alex Ferguson in 1999. Freeman argued that Ferguson had to use the hard shoulder to get to the training ground to allow for his upset stomach and need for a toilet. Clients since have included:
- Caprice Bourret - Freeman claimed the model had a urinary tract infection, and that she was affected by the drugs she was taking. Banned for 12 months.
- Lee Bowyer - the Crown Prosecution Service initially alleged that Bowyer had been driving at an average 112 mph (180 km/h) on the A1, peaking at 132 mph (212 km/h). Freeman negotiated with the CPS at Northumberland court, following irregularities with the road markings, (which were too short, giving a *lower* speed than expected). The West Ham United midfielder pleaded guilty instead to driving at 99 mph (159 km/h) on the A1. He was banned (as it was his second speeding offence in 3 years) for 42 days and fined £650. It prompted a furious response from road safety charity Brake.
- Jimmy Carr - cleared of using a mobile phone while driving at Harrow Magistrates Court after Freeman argued that Carr had used the dictation setting of his iPhone to record a joke as he drove and that using the phone for such a purpose was not illegal under current law.
- Jeremy Clarkson - after being loaned a car by Alfa Romeo, the vehicle was caught doing 82 mph (131 km/h) in a 50 mph (80 km/h) zone on the A40 in Ruislip. Alfa Romeo sent the ticket to Clarkson, who was acquitted and awarded costs because the prosecution did not offer evidence as to who the actual driver was at the time of the offence.
- Andy Cole
- Andrew Flintoff - caught on camera doing 87 mph (140 km/h) in a temporary 50 mph (80 km/h) zone, Freeman pointed out that the prosecution notice was sent two days later than the law allows. Flintoff only had to turn up at Liverpool Magistrates Court to confirm his name, age and address to be completely let off.
- Claire Ince, the wife of then Wolverhampton Wanderers player Paul Ince. Caught travelling at 100 mph in her husband's Mercedes-Benz CL600 along the M56 at Thornton-Le-Moors by Cheshire Police, they sent a Section172 notice to Paul, the registered keeper. Claire filled in the form, and was asked to attend court. Facing an immediate ban, Freeman pointed out that Claire should have been sent her own Section 172, before being charged. She was let off.
- Steve McFadden - who "had a remarkable capacity for drink" and was examined by a police surgeon, had drunk the equivalent of nine double vodkas, and was found "for all intents and purposes to be quite sober." McFadden was banned for 18 months, which is a fairly lenient sentence for the amount of alcohol in his blood.
- Colin Montgomerie - acquitted when the policeman who was said to have caught him travelling at 96 mph (154 km/h) on the A3 near Esher, Surrey (a 70 mph (112 km/h) road) at 12:50am failed to attend court, making it impossible to prove that he was driving. Got him off a second time from a 56 day ban in November 2008, after caught driving his Bentley Continental Flying Spur and failing to pay the fine. Freeman revealed that Montgomerie hated flying, and drove 55,000 miles (89,000 km) per annum in part to see his Surrey based children from his Scottish base. In 2010, Freeman had Montgomerie's points-tot-up ban quashed after revealing the indiscriminate way in which the civilian speed gun operator at Corby Hill, Carlisle had 'zapped' 390 cars in 73 minutes, one every 11 seconds, including Montgomerie's BMW X5 as well as a jogger. The case resulted in over 100 drivers having their points also quashed, and the tax payer with a £30,000 legal bill.
- Tiff Needell - cleared of failing to supply details in relation to a speeding ticket, and the speeding offence by Pontypridd magistrates
- Ronnie O'Sullivan - Freeman accused the magistrate of winking at a journalist. The magistrate replied: "Why would I wink at anybody? Do you think I'm gay or something?" Freeman subsequently had the trial stopped. At the retrial, the court accepted the explanation that O'Sullivan was "too depressed" to provide a urine sample.
- Wayne Rooney - cleared of driving without insurance when Freeman said that a requested adjournment had not been granted and the hearing had been conducted in absentia.
- William Stobart - the driver of a car allegedly doing 116 mph (185 km/h) on the M6 claimed he was William Stobart: but was he the same William Stobart who exercised his right not to attend the hearing at Penrith Magistrates? The court decided the prosecution had not proved the driver was Mr Freeman’s client, Cumbrian haulage tycoon William Stobart 
- Matthew Vaughn
- Jonathan Woodgate - banned from driving and since convicted of affray. Freeman defended Woodgate successfully in August 2008, after the footballer was allegedly caught doing 85 mph (135 km/h) in a restricted zone in his Mercedes Benz S65 AMG on the A66 near Stockton-on-Tees. The judge dismissed the case as the police said the measurement was taken over a distance of 519 metres, while Freeman showed that the road section was only 405 metres long.
- Dwight Yorke - acquitted when a Home Office-approved speed gun could not be shown to have been used under the correct conditions of approval. Freeman defended Yorke again in January 2008, whereby Yorke refused to sign police documentation to confirm he accepted he was speeding at 95 mph (152 km/h). Freeman advised Yorke to plead guilty to a charge of 85 mph (135 km/h), which resulted in a fine of £315 and 3points - keeping Yorke below 12 points, and an automatic ban.
- The husband of Coronation Street actress Vicky Entwistle, Andrew Chapman, was represented by Nick Freeman against an allegation that he punched a fan who approached his wife on a train and asked her for a photo. Chapman pleaded not guilty at Salford magistrates' court, but was convicted of common assault and fined.
- Zafar Ali, of Sudbury Hill, Wembley, north London was represented by Nick Freeman when Mr Ali who pleaded guilty at Crawley Magistrates' Court in May 2011 to driving a Porsche at more than 117 mph on a dual carriageway section of the A23. The prosecution was not represented at the hearing. Ali was fined £600, and ordered to pay a £15 victim's surcharge as well as £43 prosecution costs. His licence was endorsed with six penalty points.
- "Celebrity lawyer 'Mr Loophole' refused to help own daughter beat speeding ticket 'to teach her a lesson'". Daily Mail (London). 9 September 2010.
- Daily Express, Trademark Mr Loophole, 7 February 2008
- Angela Epstein (October 15, 2009). "Interview: Nick Freeman". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
- The fast and the furious Law Gazette - 18 May 2006
- Walford, Charles. "Where's your loophole now, mister? Celebrity lawyer Nick Freeman fined £60 after failing to renew MOT on his £200k Bentley". Daily Mail (London).
- "Police bail 'Mr Loophole' lawyer". BBC News. 31 October 2006. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- Verkaik, Robert (1 November 2006). "Mr Loophole' held over 'attempt to pervert the course of justice". The Independent (London). Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- Sanderson, Elizabeth (12 March 2011). "Is it all over for Mr and Mrs Loophole - and does he know a good lawyer?". Daily Mail (London).
- "No charges for celebrity lawyer". BBC News. 17 May 2007.
- Nick Freeman - Mr Loophole James Woodroffe for Fifth Gear @ FIVE
- Hutson, Graham; Siret, Mal (5 December 2004). "Drunk your honour I was only sleepwalking". The Times (London). Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- Call him Mr Loophole The Guardian - January 27, 2006
- Ward, Victoria (20 July 2012). ""Mr Loophole" condemned for sharp practice by judge". London: Telegraph. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
- Rare failure for 'Mr Loophole' BBC News - 25 August 2006
- Lee Bowyer rapped The Evening Chronicle - April 20, 2006
- "Jimmy Carr cleared of mobile charge". Yahoo! News UK. 16 October 2009. Retrieved 2008-10-16.[dead link]
- Clarkson speeding case dismissed BBC News - 6 September 2007
- Driving loopholes police pledge BBC News - 20 Dec 2005
- Patrick, Guy (2008-05-06). "‘87 mph’ Flintoff in loophole win". London: The Sun. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
- Jess Shaughnessy (March 5, 2004). "Star's wife avoids ban". Wirral Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
- Drunk, your honour? I was only sleepwalking... The Sunday Times - December 5, 2004
- Clench, James (2008-12-02). "Monty zoomer beats drive ban". London: The Sun. Retrieved 2008-12-02.
- James Tozer (2010-06-15). "How Mr Loophole got Monty off...and landed the taxpayer with a £30,000 bill". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 2010-06-15.
- "TV presenter cleared over ticket". BBC News. 20 November 2006. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- News & Star
- 'Mr Loophole' - Nick Freeman BBC News - 30 May 2006
- Woodgate's jaw broken in attack BBC News - 10 April 2002
- Updated, Last (2008-08-19). "Loophole ace saves Prem star". London: The Sun. Retrieved 2008-08-19.
- "Dwight Yorke fined for speeding". BBC News. 8 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
- "Coronation Street star's husband punched picture-seeker". BBC News. 24 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-24.
- "Judge accuses celebrity lawyer 'Mr Loophole' of 'sharp practice' in speeding case". Daily Mail (London).