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Lawyer helps Tory peer avoids driving ban for speeding despite having six points on licence

Lawyer helps Tory peer avoids driving ban for speeding despite having six points on licence 2

A Tory peer who was caught speeding in his Bentley on the M25 avoided a driving ban today in yet another victory for lawyer to the stars Nick Freeman, aka ‘Mr Loophole’. 

Lord Jonathan Marland, 65, already had six points on his driving licence when he was caught speeding in a 40mph zone by a police trap while en route to Heathrow Airport on June 23 last year.

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The former treasurer of the Conservative party pleaded guilty at Lavender Hill Magistrates Court to driving at 55mph on Friday and received three more points, bringing his total to nine.

It meant he narrowly avoided an automatic six-month ban, which is triggered at 12 points. 

It came after Mr Freeman successfully negotiated the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) down from charging Lord Marland with driving at 70mph, which would have incurred a harsher punishment.

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The lawyer has made a lucrative career out of finding technical faults with driving charges for high-profile clients, earning him his ‘Mr Loophole’ nickname.

He most recently represented Frank Lampard in February, after a cyclist filmed the ex-Chelsea star holding his phone while driving. In that case, the CPS chose not to prosecute as it said the footage did not show whether the phone was turned on. 

Lord Jonathan Marland, 65, pleaded guilty at Lavender Hill Magistrates Court to driving at 55mph on Friday and received three more points on his licence. (Pictured, left, outside court with lawyer Nick Freeman)

Lord Jonathan Marland, 65, pleaded guilty at Lavender Hill Magistrates Court to driving at 55mph on Friday and received three more points on his licence. (Pictured, left, outside court with lawyer Nick Freeman)

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Lord Jonathan Marland (pictured with PM Boris Johnson) already had six points on his driving licence when he was caught speeding in a 40mph zone by a police trap while en route to Heathrow Airport on June 23 last year

Lord Jonathan Marland (pictured with PM Boris Johnson) already had six points on his driving licence when he was caught speeding in a 40mph zone by a police trap while en route to Heathrow Airport on June 23 last year

Other former clients include David Beckham, Jimmy Carr and Jeremy Clarkson. 

Lord Marland, an insurance businessman of Odstock, Salisbury, Wiltshire, was fined £146 on Friday, plus £110 costs and was ordered to pay a £34 victim surcharge.  

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Outside court he said he was catching a flight to Gibraltar to open a government office when a police speed trap, positioned on the M25’s hard shoulder, pulled him over.

‘I was very reluctant to fly. The covid restrictions had just been lifted and this is what you get for public service,’ said the Lord.

He has previously served as the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy; Minister for Energy and Climate Change and Business, Innovation and Skills.

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The father-of-four was caught on a hand-held Pro Laser speed camera and always disputed the claim he was driving at 70mph.

Mr Freeman used images from Google Maps to highlight to the CPS the 40mph speed limit signs were inappropriate for that stretch of motorway.

‘Having spoken to the defence representative and seen the poor signage of the road I have agreed to lower the speed. The defendant would not have known the signage was there,’ prosecutor Abigail Akano told the court.

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Mr Freeman asked the court to simply issue Lord Marland with a fixed penalty. 

He said: ‘We are only here because it was originally charged under a different speed.

‘It is unfair the defendant should be prejudiced because of a speed put forward by the Crown.’

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When asked about Lord Marland’s income Mr Freeman said: ‘His would fall amongst the highest bracket. He has not filled out a statement of means.

‘The motorway was absolutely deserted and this was a spur road towards Heathrow Airport with no other cars.

‘He was not in a hurry and he was on government business. He co-operated fully with the police officers and did not dispute he was speeding, but did dispute the speed.’

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The court questioned how poor signage could alter the charge from speeding at 70mph to 55mph and Mr Freeman added: ‘The Crown accept 55mph was the appropriate speed in this case and that’s it.

‘The summons is speeding. Not doing 70mph.’

Lawyer Nick Freeman (pictured) has made a career out of representing stars for alleged motor offences

Lawyer Nick Freeman (pictured) has made a career out of representing stars for alleged motor offences

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Footage from a cyclist in February showed Frank Lampard - a client of Mr Freeman - with a  cup of takeaway coffee in his right hand and a mobile phone in his left one. The CPS chose not to prosecute as it said the footage did not show whether the phone was turned on.

Footage from a cyclist in February showed Frank Lampard – a client of Mr Freeman – with a  cup of takeaway coffee in his right hand and a mobile phone in his left one. The CPS chose not to prosecute as it said the footage did not show whether the phone was turned on.

Ms Akano agreed, adding: ‘It is something we can take a view on and we have done so this morning.’

Magistrate David Walker told Lord Marland: ‘Obviously you have listened to what has been said and the court has heard you have pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

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‘We will endorse your licence with three penalty points and that will put you on nine penalty points.

‘You are getting very close to twelve penalty points, which would give you a driving ban of six months so from now on drive with extreme caution.’

Lord Marland is currently the Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, having formerly been Treasurer of the Conservative Party.

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After failing to win the parliamentary seat of Somerton and Frome for the Tories at the 2001 General Election he was awarded a life peerage on June 8, 2006 as Baron Marland of Odstock.

Educated at the private Shrewsbury School, Lord Marland made his fortune after founding multinational insurance giant Jardine Lloyd Thompson. 

Mr Loophole’s victories

Jimmy Carr

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In 2009, the comedian — who has been represented by Freeman in three separate driving charges — was alleged to have used a mobile phone while driving his Bentley through Harrow, North-West London. Carr was cleared after Freeman argued Carr was not making a telephone call. He was actually using his iPhone to dictate an idea for a joke and dictating into a phone is not illegal.

Colin Montgomerie

Another three-time client of Freeman’s, the heavyweight golfer escaped a possible 56-day ban in June 2010, having been fined £60 for driving his £115,000 Bentley Continental Flying Spur at 70mph in a 40mph zone of the A3 in South-West London, then failing to pay the penalty on time. Freeman persuade the court to let Monty keep driving as the golfer was scared of flying and is thus obliged to drive from his home in Scotland to Surrey just to see his and ex-wife Eimear’s three children.

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Ronnie O’Sullivan

In 2007, Freeman successfully defended snooker star O’Sullivan, who was accused of failing to provide police with a urine sample when suspected of drink driving. Freeman argued the trial should be stopped because the magistrate was winking at a journalist, to which the magistrate replied: ‘Do you think I’m gay or something?’ The solicitor also argued that O’Sullivan could not provide a sample because his well-known depressive disorder meant that he was too stressed to pee.

David Beckham

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In 1999, Becks was given an eight-month ban, having been caught driving his £150,000 Ferrari at 76mph in a 50mph zone in Wilmslow, Cheshire. Freeman successfully appealed the verdict, arguing that Becks was ‘petrified’ of having been chased for ten miles from his Alderley Edge home by a paparazzi. 

Sir Alex Ferguson

In 1999, Beckham’s then-manager also had cause to be grateful for Freeman’s services, having been caught avoiding a motorway traffic jam by driving down the hard shoulder. Freeman successfully argued that Fergie had a good reason for doing so, as he had a stomach upset, feared he was about to be caught short and was frantically trying to get to the toilet at Manchester United’s training ground.

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Jeremy Clarkson

In October 2006, an Alfa Romeo that had been loaned to the Top Gear presenter was snapped doing 82mph in a 50mph zone in Ruislip, West London. Freeman had the case dropped within a matter of minutes. Freeman argued that Alfa Romeo, to whom the ticket was issued, passed it on to Clarkson because he had been loaned the car. But all Alfa knew was that Clarkson had borrowed the car — they had no proof he’d been driving it.

Andrew Flintoff

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The England cricketer was alleged to have been driving at 87mph in a temporary 50mph zone on the M62. Yet the case against him at Liverpool Magistrates Court collapsed in less than a minute. Freeman said the authorities were simply too slow and the prosecution notice was received by Flintoff 16 days after the alleged offence, when the law says it has to be issued in 14 days.

Joe Cole

In 2010, England footballer Joe Cole escaped an automatic six-month ban despite being caught driving at 105mph on the A3 in Surrey. Freeman had the punishment cut to a £750 fine and a 50-day ban, which was immediately suspended when Freeman said that he would appeal the verdict, arguing that Cole had to be able to drive, since his wife Carly Zucker had been traumatised by a recent carjacking, could no longer drive herself and was, yes, too famous to use public transport. 

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