Putting your foot down

Robert Verkaik says you don't have to be rich to avoid a speeding penalty

It's a fair cop. You're stuck in traffic and late for work. As soon as the road clears, you put your foot down and the next thing you know you're being pulled over by the boys in blue.

It may be three more points on the licence and a possible ban, but everyone knows it's hard to beat a speeding rap. So why is it that David Beckham, Colin Montgomerie and Dwight Yorke have paid thousands of pounds to contest their road traffic offences?

The answer is that money can sometimes buy you justice.

Nick Freeman, who has represented the three sportsmen, won about 200 speeding and drink-driving cases last year. "Choosing the right lawyer can make a big difference. You should select someone who not only knows the law but is a good advocate and can establish a rapport with the bench."

In 1999, Beckham was convicted of speeding and banned for eight months but Mr Freeman managed to overturn the conviction by arguing that the England captain was under duress because he was being chased by the paparazzi.

Beckham's former manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, also instructed Mr Freeman when he was accused of illegally using the hard shoulder to escape a motorway traffic jam.Freeman claimed that an upset stomach had made him desperate to find a lavatory. The court ruled in Sir Alex's favour.

Cases such as these give the unsettling impression that there is one law for the rich and another for everyone else. But, of the 200 privately represented cases handled by Freeman last year, about 10 ended in guilty verdicts and half of those he won on appeal. "It's true that it may cost, but it also depends on the law and the circumstances of the case," says the lawyer, who charges a nominal fee to look at the merits of a defence before he agrees to accept instructions. "It's also true that you get what you pay for, and what you get is legal expertise."

How much Mr Freeman charges for this advice he won't say, but his free advice to motorists stopped by the police is: "Agree to produce your documents in seven days but don't sign anything. It's up to the prosecution to prove that you are the driver."

This is less of an issue when it comes to defending celebrities, but it can play a part. Mr Freeman managed to get Dwight Yorke off a dangerous-driving charge by reducing it to one of careless driving. Part of his argument was that the video that had recorded his speeding car had been left on because the officers knew who he was. "It was obvious it was him and there was no reason why they didn't pull him over," he said.

Iain Johnstone, head of road traffic at Tuckers solicitors, says you don't have to be rich to beat the rap. "We have represented a number of people on legal aid who have been acquitted on what many might consider a legal technicality," he says. In one recent case, a Manchester man who drank seven pints of lager before driving into the car in front managed to escape punishment after vomiting on the alcohol-reading equipment in the police station.

All this goes to prove is that ticking the guilty box and sending your cheque to the nearest court is not the only response to a road-traffic summons.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Life and Style
i100

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Email Designer

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

    MFL TEACHER, SUPPLY VACANCY, LOVELY SITTINGBOURNE SCHOOL

    Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The Job We are currently recruit...

    NQT Teachers

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: Randstad Education can provide you wit...

    MATHS TEACHER, PERMANENT VACANCY, TONBRIDGE SCHOOL

    Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is currently ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week