'Mr Loophole' caught out by the small print

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The Independent Online

A celebrity lawyer nicknamed "Mr Loophole" admitted today to being £5,000 out of pocket after failing to read the small print on a pet insurance policy.

Nick Freeman is famed for his ability to use the small details to secure acquittals for his rich clients.

The 53-year-old, who has successfully defended the likes of European Ryder Cup golf captain Colin Montgomerie and England cricketer Andrew Flintoff, was on holiday in the south of France when his pet Staffordshire bull terrier collapsed.

At first Mr Freeman believed Rocco was suffering from heat exhaustion but the five-year-old had picked up a near fatal illness.

The piebald, which was taken on holiday to "lose his virginity and get his rocks off after we found a pretty bitch for him", had been infected with a parasite.

His red blood cells were attacking one another.

The pedigree dog, which Mr Freeman said is always by his side, ended up undergoing expensive tests and two blood transfusions at a private vet in Cannes near the family's holiday home.

Despite paying their pet insurance premiums, when Mr Freeman's wife, Stephanie, phoned the company she was told they had not complied with the small print.

They should have notified the company a fortnight before the holiday and paid an additional £100, Mr Freeman said.

Today, the lawyer to the stars acknowledged the irony of coming up short on the small print.

"I have to hold my hands up," he said.

"I didn't read the small print but I should have done.

"Dog owners can learn from me that you must read the terms and deal with them when they take their pets away.

"Blink and you miss it.

"It's the old adage of looking after your clients' interests very well, far better so than when it comes to yourself."

Rocco is one of two Staffs they lawyer has.

"I spend so much time with him and Pippa, who is 13, they are by my side whether it's at the office, on the golf course or out in the country," said the father-of-two.

Rocco is now being treated by the family's vet in Cheshire and could undergo chemotherapy to boost his blood cell count.

His illness meant the in-demand lawyer had to stay in France for a further two weeks.

"We take the dogs away several times a year and have never had a problem before.

"I wasn't going to leave him there because it was very much touch and go.

"We think he got this parasite in north Wales by jumping into some sheep dip.

"He had a quick drink by the time I could catch up with him and then four weeks later he collapsed."