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Last Updated: Friday, 25 August 2006, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
Rare failure for 'Mr Loophole'
The driving ban given to former super-model Caprice Bourret for drink-driving marks a rare failure for one of Britain's most infamous lawyers, Nick Freeman.

Nick Freeman and Caprice outside court
Mr Freeman says he has lost "very few" cases

Dubbed "Mr Loophole" owing to his talent for finding unusual technical defences, Mr Freeman has represented celebrities from footballer David Beckham to snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan.

He first hit the headlines in 1999 when he successfully defended Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who was accused of driving down the hard shoulder of a motorway.

The loophole? Sir Alex was simply looking for a toilet because he had a stomach upset.

Other notable moments in the Manchester-based lawyer's colourful career include defending a policeman on drink-driving charges because police at the officer's own station had not followed proper procedure while arresting him.

And during O'Sullivan's trial for refusing to provide a urine sample, Mr Freeman accused the magistrate of winking at a journalist.

My job is to defend people - whether they are charged with murder, rape, fraud, tax evasion or drink-driving
Nick Freeman

The magistrate replied: "Why would I wink at anybody? Do you think I'm gay or something?"

It was all the ammunition Mr Freeman needed to have the trial stopped. At the retrial, the court accepted the explanation that O'Sullivan was "too depressed" to provide a urine sample.

During one of Ms Bourret's hearings, he said: "There is a total absence of any suggestion of intoxication in this case. Nobody is suggesting that she was displaying any symptoms at all other than alcohol halitosis."

The model, 34, had admitted drinking but blamed the incident on drugs she was taking for a urinary infection.

However, the district judge banned her from driving for 12 months, deciding she had failed to prove that she should be excused from a ban because of special medical circumstances.

The ruling will disappoint the Nottingham-born lawyer who says he has lost "very few" cases.

He also admits that he defends people on drink-driving charges even when they are undeniably over the legal limit of alcohol.

In one such case he argued that a blood sample was taken without proper consent. The driver, who was four times over the legal limit, was undergoing surgery at the time after crashing his car.

The Sun newspaper thinks so highly of him that it posed the question in an editorial: "Is Mr Freeman the Mother Teresa of specialist lawyers?"

Anti-drink-driving campaigners are less keen.

'Morally reprehensible'

So how does Mr Freeman justify his open defence of drink-drivers?

"I abhor people who drink and drive - there's no justification for it, it's morally reprehensible, it shouldn't happen," he told BBC Radio 4's Law in Action programme in May this year.

But he stressed that he had to "compartmentalise" his personal and moral views and deal with every case as a lawyer.

"My job is to defend people - whether they are charged with murder, rape, fraud, tax evasion or drink-driving," he told the programme.

He said it was up to Parliament to close the so-called loopholes he exploited to free drink-drivers.

"I've done two drink-drivers this week, both of them acquitted. I've done many this year, lost very few," he said.

"It doesn't affect the way I sleep at all because I enjoy doing my job as a lawyer - and obviously the more acquittals I get, the better I'm doing my job."


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