Disgraced peer rides out of jail on a Harley

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The Independent Online
IT WAS a passion for classic cars that precipitated Lord Brocket's downfall. So his decision to depart from prison yesterday astride a gleaming Harley-Davidson motorbike was equivalent to sticking two fingers up at authority.

This, after all, is the man who boasted to one of his accomplices in the pounds 4.5m insurance scam that landed him in jail: "Don't tell me about the law. I make the law."

But it may be that, after two-and-a-half years behind bars, the third Baron Brocket has shed the arrogance of unearned wealth and privilege.

He certainly seemed eager to convey that impression yesterday. As he left Springhill open prison in Buckinghamshire, he told reporters: "You really appreciate freedom once you've been inside. It makes you reassess life and all your priorities and what is important and what is not."

Dressed in jeans and leathers, Lord Brocket, whose family name is Charles Nall-Cain, said: "I have had a lot of time to reflect on everything. I obviously regret very much the distress I have caused everyone."

Former Prisoner HG-1031 has much to reflect upon as he contemplates the debris of his shattered life.

He still has his title, but he has lost his wife, his children, his home and his reputation.

His lawyers told the Appeal Court last November, during an unsuccessful attempt to secure him an earlier release, that he had endured "a fall of almost Faust-like proportions". The reality was far shabbier than those grandiose words suggest. Faced with pounds 16m debts, partly amassed from building up his collection of nearly three dozen classic cars, Lord Brocket hatched a desperate and audacious scheme.

In 1991, in the middle of the night, he dismantled three Ferraris and a Maserati and hid the pieces around the 5,000-acre grounds of Brocket Hall, his family seat in Hertfordshire, now leased to hotel developers to pay off the debts.

Lord Brocket claimed the cars had been stolen and pursued his sceptical insurers for three years, even bringing a lawsuit against them.

It was his wife, Isa Lorenzo, a former model, who gave the game away, telling police about the fraud when she was arrested for forging drug prescriptions.

He served just half of the five-year sentence handed down at Luton Crown Court in February 1996.

Although attacked and threatened by fellow inmates, he managed to adapt to life "inside" and received an apparently warm send-off yesterday.

The turquoise Harley-Davidson Fatboy - retail value pounds 14,000 - was left in the Springhill car park for him an hour before he emerged.

Lord Brocket, 46, looking slimmer than in pre-prison days, said his first priority was to see his three children, who now live with his ex- wife in Puerto Rico.

She divorced him in 1994. He did not say if he had any other plans, and refused to comment when asked if he had written a book about his experiences.

Before he left, he shook hands with a group of warders and wished them all the best. A former fellow inmate shouted: "Good luck, Charlie!" as he rode off.

A prison officer said: "His Lordship was quite a character. He was one of the lads. We will miss him a lot."