'Model citizen' Ian Brown escapes driving ban
Solicitor known as Mr Loophole makes passionate defence of Stone Roses frontman
Rob Hastings is Deputy News Editor at The Independent. He has served on the news desk since 2010, and also writes travel articles, music reviews and features. In 2015 he shortlisted for the Washington Post’s Laurence Stern Fellowship for a series on reportage features from Iran.
Tuesday 25 October 2011
Popping to the supermarket for his elderly parents and picking his son up from school to take him out for dinner. Listening in court yesterday to the lawyer known as "Mr Loophole", one could be forgiven for thinking a model citizen was on trial – not one of rock's most abrasive frontmen who had been clocked speeding at 105mph.
But solicitor Nick Freeman's presentation of Ian Brown's curiously saintly "domestic obligations" should have Stone Roses fans sighing with relief, as the lead singer of the newly reformed band yesterday escaped a driving ban which he claimed could have put the group's comeback gigs at risk.
The musician was appearing at Chester magistrates' court having being trailed by a police car on the M6 at 12.30am on 25 April this year, when for five miles his Lexus M6 never dropped below 94mph and for one mile touched 105mph. Mr Brown initially denied he had been travelling at such a speed, but later pleaded guilty.
The singer spent two months in prison in 1988 after being convicted of air rage – a sentence he later said would have been much shorter if only he had hired a decent lawyer.
There was to be no such negligence this time. He was fined £650 and given six penalty points on his licence – a deterrent that could have been harsher had it not been for Mr Freeman, who has trademarked the "Mr Loophole" nickname he earned in the tabloid press after successfully defending a number of celebrity clients charged with speeding offences.
The solicitor told the court a ban would cause "insurmountable" problems for Mr Brown, who is now regularly driving to rehearsals with his bandmates at a "remote secret location" to ensure they are in good enough nick to perform to 220,000 people over two days next June at Heaton Park in Manchester. Mr Freeman said Mr Brown was enduring an "extremely acrimonious" divorce with his wife of 10 years. Anxious to maintain his "excellent relationship" with his 11-year-old son, it was said that Mr Brown drives to London from his home in the Cheshire village of Lymm every Wednesday to collect him from school and take him out for dinner, as well as visiting him three out of every four weekends.
The court heard that Mr Brown was "very much dependent" on his car, also regularly visiting the supermarket on behalf of his ageing parents. "As somebody who is now in the public eye, one can imagine the difficulties he would now encounter if he were forced to rely on public transport," said Mr Freeman, who added: "Had this case been heard earlier, he would not have had the attention of the press. It's now big news."
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