The country’s leading road traffic lawyer this afternoon (Thursday January 23) urged hundreds of motorists “named and shamed” on twitter by police after being charged with a drink or drug driving offence over Christmas and New Year to pursue a civil claim for damages.
Nick Freeman, who has earned the nickname ‘Mr Loophole’ for his successful track record in defending motorists, including celebrities such as David Beckham, Sir Alex Ferguson, Jimmy Carr and Jeremy Clarkson, was responding to the Information Commissioner’s decision that Staffordshire Police – one of several forces to adopt this controversial approach – was wrong to do so.
And he repeated his calls for the county’s police and crime commissioner, Matthew Ellis, to “carefully consider his position” after continuing with the twitter campaign despite repeated warnings that flew in the face of English law and the presumption of innocence.
Mr Freeman said: “The Information Commissioner’s ruling is exactly right and highlights the error of the ways of those police forces who took to trial by social media with a breathtaking disregard to the law.
“Now Staffordshire Police have capitulated and confessed they were wrong, I trust that other forces who behaved in a similar cavalier fashion will follow suit. Today’s ruling will cause shockwaves – and red faces – across many police forces.
“My advice to those motorists who were named and shamed on twitter is firstly to make a formal complaint to the Chief Constable, and secondly to consider pursuing a civil action against the police force involved for any relevant damages.”
He added: “There must be a huge question mark over the future of Mr Ellis after this debacle. He has repeatedly misunderstood the law in several different ways and he has refused to back down even when the error of his was pointed out to him.
“His own brand of law – Ellis’s Law – insinuated those charged with a criminal offence were guilty come what may. This was totally misconceived and potentially undermined the criminal justice system.
“With Ellis Law you are guilty as charged until you are proven innocent.
“In our legal system a police officer is not the arbiter of guilt or innocence. That role is the preserve of the judge and jury or magistrates.
“I fully support naming and shaming offenders – but only after conviction.”
Mr Freeman added: “I believe more effective anti-drink and drug driving measures could be deployed by increasing mobile police patrols, reducing the current drink-drive limit and, most importantly, changing the law so the police have the legal power to breathalyse at random.
For Further Information, please contact:
Nick Freeman, 0161 236 7007/ 07778 159 882
David Simister, Different PR, on 0845 389 26 26 / 07870 550 760
Richard Chew, Different PR on 0845 389 2626/ 07790 569 187