It’s almost like rich people with good lawyers don’t need to follow the same rules as the rest of us
David Beckham was a very good footballer, an extremely handsome man, an extraordinarily famous individual and, it turns out, a pretty fast driver. Ol’ Golden Balls was recently caught doing 59mph in a 40 zone, but got away with it with the help of his lawyer, Nick Freeman, a man who quite literally has the nickname “Mr Loophole”.
When one is caught speeding, a notice of intended prosecution, or NIP, is issued and sent to them. There is a 14-day statute of limitations on these, so if you aren’t contacted within two weeks of the incident, you can’t be prosecuted. Beckham was spotted speeding on January 23rd this year, and an NIP was issued on February 2nd and sent to Bentley Motors Ltd (Beckham wasn’t driving his own car, but a Bentley he’d been kindly lent by the manufacturers).
Despite the NIP being sent by first-class post, and the first-class post system meaning that the NIP should absolutely have arrived by February 6th, Beckham’s legal team produced witnesses that satisfied the district judge that the document didn’t arrive until February 7th, 15 days after the offense and therefore outside the statute of limitations, so the case was dismissed.
Lucky David, eh? Lucky that a letter that would normally arrive within 48 hours took five days to get to him, saving him from being penalised. Still, if there’s one thing David Beckham knows a lot about, it’s penalties! Ha ha ha! That is a FOOTBALL JOKE.
What would his penalty have been, though? Under laws last revised in 2017, going 59 in a 40 zone qualifies you for a Band B fine, which tops out at 125% of your weekly wage or £2500. In 2017, Becks was paid a dividend of £18.75 million by his company DB Ventures Ltd, which would put his weekly wage at over £275,000, so it’s reasonably safe to say that, even if he’d got overexcited in the January sales and bought a great big new telly, when the incident happened he probably had the money to pay the fine.
Maybe it was to avoid the other potential punishments - a Band B fine comes accompanied with 4 to 6 points and a ban of between 7 and 28 days.
Beckham got off a proposed eight-month ban back in 1999 after his lawyer successfully argued that he was only driving that fast to avoid a paparazzi photographer. That lawyer’s name? Nick “Mr Loophole” Freeman (who trademarked his nickname in 2008, because he apparently likes it, even though it sounds a lot like having the nickname “Mr Anus”), who has also helped Sir Alex Ferguson, Colin Montgomerie and Freddie Flintoff keep their licences.
Beckham has used loopholes before - in fact, it was supposedly his use of a tax-avoidance loophole in 2014 that had him removed from the New Years Honours List, when he was going to receive a knighthood. Leaked emails last year purported to show him referring to the Honours Committee as “a bunch of c*nts” as a result.
Does Beckham have a responsibility to pay up? Legally, no. But morally? He freely admitted to driving that fast - technicality or no technicality, he could easily have coughed up the fine, and would have been able to take a speed awareness course in lieu of points or a ban.
Anti-speeding campaigner Claire Armstrong, of the Safe Speed Campaign, told The Sun: “This says if you have enough money you can lead a different life to everyone else. It also appears to show speeding is not seen as dangerous by courts.”
It’s hard to argue with her really, and the cartoonishly upmarket nature of Beckham’s vehicle (not just a Bentley, a Bentley lent to him by Bentley) does make it feel like something of a Haves and Have-Nots scenario.
In conclusion, it is an unfair world. Not only does David Beckham get to be David Beckham, to look in the mirror and see David Beckham looking back at him, it turns out there are some people to whom the law just doesn’t apply.
This isn’t how you go about getting knighthoods, though, is it?