Nick Freeman (born 1956) 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 his book The Art of the Loophole, published by Coronet, Freeman reveals his legal loophole secrets.
Freeman is Jewish and he 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.||”|
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:
- David Beckham – In 1999, Beckham was given an eight-month ban, having been caught driving his Ferrari at 76 mph in a 50 mph zone in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. Freeman successfully appealed the disqualification, arguing that he was petrified by being chased for ten miles from his home by the paparazzi.
- Joe Cole – Cole was caught speeding at 105 mph but Freeman persuaded magistrates to delay the 50-day ban as Cole's wife was unable to drive. This was due to a traumatising incident where she was car jacked by eight men and meant she was unwilling to get behind the wheel.
- Ranulph Fiennes – He escaped a prosecution for an alleged driving offence due to Freeman pointing out there was technical failures such as spelling errors on the letter summoning Fiennes to court and letters were sent out to a 'Mr Ran Flenns'.
- Van Morrison – The singer was clocked at 36 mph in his BMW in a 30 mph zone in Taunton, Somerset. He was due to be tried in court for his offence but Freeman discovered prosecution papers had been served late and argued the delay was unfair and the Crown Prosecution Service decided to drop the case.
- Frank Lampard – Lampard was fined £850 and handed six penalty points on his licence after he admitted speeding at 84 mph on a 50 mph road. He pleaded guilty after video footage showed his speeding. Freeman urged the court to consider points rather than a ban as the footballer needed to drive to see his children regularly who live with his former partner.
- John Terry – Terry pleaded guilty and faced a minimum six-month ban, but magistrates reduced it to 28 days after Freeman said that Terry had only accelerated because he was being pursued by two photographers on motorbikes, and he was concerned for the safety of his children, also in the car. A tracking bug was discovered on Terry's Range Rover that allowed his journeys to be monitored and for paparazzi to follow his whereabouts.
- Ian Brown – After Freeman defended the Stone Roses lead singer for being caught driving at 105 mph on the M6. Freeman persuaded the court not to disqualify him, so that he could fulfil his domestic duties, such as picking his son up from school to take him out for dinner and going to the supermarket for his elderly parents.
- 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 Hillingdon. 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 Section 172 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 12:50 am 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 Freeman's client, Cumbrian haulage tycoon William Stobart.
- Matthew Vaughn
- Charlotte Crosby – defended the TV personality on a drink-driving charge. She was handed a three-year ban and a fine of £1000.
- 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 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 Freeman when 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 surcharge as well as £43 prosecution costs. His licence was endorsed with six penalty points. Freeman became involved when Ali was wrongly sent a second summons regarding the same incident. Freeman acted as Ali's advocate at the trial, which was held at Horsham, West Sussex. Cross-examination of a police witness revealed errors in police statements, and Ali was acquitted after the prosecution offered no further evidence. Immediately after the acquittal, Freeman applied to the court to set aside Ali's earlier conviction at the first trial on the grounds that – despite Ali admitting the speeding offence – the conviction was also flawed by errors and inaccuracies in police statements.
- Paddy McGuinness - the comedian was acquitted of a driving ban in October 2017 despite having pleaded guilty. McGuinness was caught speeding in August 2016 but the case was dismissed at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday after the lawyer argued the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has displayed a ‘cavalier approach’ to the case.
- Sir Harry Djanogly CBE - charged with driving his five-litre silver Jaguar XK dangerously on The Westway A40, Hammersmith in December 2014 and assaulting Police Sergeant Robert McDonald on the same occasion but was cleared under Freeman's counsel as Djanogly claimed he was speeding to get his sick wife to hospital.
- Kenneth Hugill, an 83 year old farmer, was charged with GBH when he shot an intruder on his farm in November 2015. Though the jury at Hull Crown Court took just 24 minutes to clear him of grievous bodily harm, Mr Hugill still had to pay the £30,000 legal costs incurred during the three-day trial. Mr Freeman was so outraged by this that he set up a crowdfunding page to help pay for these believing that the outcome 'was not justice'
- Freeman was the first to acquit an alleged drug-driver after workers at the Randox forensics lab where the drivers blood was tested were arrested under suspicion of doctoring results.
- In 2015 Freeman represented Lynette Tweedale pro bono, after Tweedale was ordered by the Bedford Borough Council to pay a £50 fine after walking her dog without a lead in a Bedford cemetery. Freeman took Tweedale's case after hearing her speak about it on BBC Radio 3. The case against Tweedale was dropped in December 2015.
- "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
- "Our Campaign". Save The Staffy. 20 February 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
- Angela Epstein (15 October 2009). "Interview: Nick Freeman". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
- The fast and the furious Law Gazette – 18 May 2006
- Walford, Charles (17 January 2012). "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 – 27 January 2006
- 'Mr Loophole' Appeals Becks' Ban Daily Mail – 25 April 2013
- Joe Cole's Diving Ban Suspended The Guardian – 27 August 2010
- Ranuplh Fiennes Escapes Driving Prosecution With Mr Loophole The Daily Telegraph – 30 January 2009
- Van Morrison Escapes Driving Fine Due To Lawyer 'Mr Loophole' The Mirror – 14 October 2009
- Caught By The Real Boys In Blue The Mirror – 19 October 2012
- "My Car Is Bugged", says John Terry The Mirror – 11 June 2011
- Model Citizen Ian Brown Escapes Driving Ban The Guardian – 27 August 2010
- Rare failure for 'Mr Loophole' The Independent – 25 October 2011
- Lee Bowyer rapped The Evening Chronicle – 20 April 2006
- "Jimmy Carr cleared of mobile charge". Yahoo! News UK. 16 October 2009. Archived from the original on 19 October 2009. Retrieved 16 October 2008.
- Clarkson speeding case dismissed BBC News – 6 September 2007
- Driving loopholes police pledge BBC News – 20 December 2005
- Patrick, Guy (6 May 2008). "'87 mph' Flintoff in loophole win". The Sun. London. Retrieved 6 May 2008.
- Jess Shaughnessy (5 March 2004). "Star's wife avoids ban". Wirral Chronicle. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
- Drunk, your honour? I was only sleepwalking... The Sunday Times – 5 December 2004
- Clench, James (2 December 2008). "Monty zoomer beats drive ban". The Sun. London. Retrieved 2 December 2008.
- James Tozer (15 June 2010). "How Mr Loophole got Monty off...and landed the taxpayer with a £30,000 bill". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "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 (19 August 2008). "Loophole ace saves Prem star". The Sun. London. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
- "Dwight Yorke fined for speeding". BBC News. 8 January 2008. Retrieved 8 January 2008.
- "Coronation Street star's husband punched picture-seeker". BBC News. 24 November 2010. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
- Scapens, Alex (3 October 2017). "Paddy McGuinness pleaded guilty - but Nick Freeman STILL got him off". men. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
- "Millionaire philanthropist appears in court". Mail Online. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
- "Millionaire who drove with a policeman hanging from window is CLEARED". Mail Online. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
- Agency (26 June 2015). "Millionaire 'dragged police officer who stopped him for speeding'". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
- "Fund started to pay £30,000 legal fees of farmer, 83, cleared of GBH". ITV News. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
- "Alleged drug driver cleared". Mail Online. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
- "Dog walker 'harassed' by Bedford Borough Council for letting pet off its lead". Bedfordshire News. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
- "Bedford Borough Council accused of bully tactics after issuing court summons to dog walker". Bedfordshire News. 28 September 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
- "Pet owner's relief after Bedford Borough Council drops 'wrongful' legal case against her". Bedfordshire News. 3 December 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2017.