David Beckham will not be prosecuted over a speeding charge after the celebrity lawyer dubbed “Mr Loophole” successfully fought the allegation on a technicality.
The former England captain, 43, was accused of driving a loaned Bentley at 59mph in a 40mph zone on the A40 in Paddington shortly after 5.30pm on January 23.
Despite accepting driving the car at that speed he will not face action because a notice of intended prosecution (NIP) was not received until one day after the statutory 14-day time limit.
His lawyer Nick Freeman told reporters Beckham, who was not in court, was “very relieved with the verdict and very happy with his legal team” after the trial at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
Mr Freeman previously helped Beckham overturn an eight-month driving ban in 1999 after successfully arguing the footballer was trying to escape a paparazzi photographer.
After hearing witnesses from both the Metropolitan Police and Bentley Motors Ltd, District Judge Barabara Barnes said she was satisfied that the NIP had been sent in time, but had simply arrived later than it should have.
It was one of 3,487 NIPs sent by Scotland Yard on February 2, which go first class, and should have arrived at Bentley, as the registered keepers of the vehicle, no later than February 6.
But she was satisfied it did not arrive until February 7, having heard evidence from Colette Hollies, who has collected post for the legal department at Bentley twice a day for the past nine years.
Mr Freeman suggested the matter may simply have been a case of poor postal service, citing a subsequent letter sent first class by Bentley to Scotland Yard which took eight days to arrive.
He said: “Unfortunately and sadly some post attracts problems.
“There might be nobody at fault here.”
Summing up, the judge said the law allowed for the “vagaries” of the postal system to be taken into account.
She said: “In this case I’m satisfied that the NIP was indeed sent within the 14 days to allow for it to be delivered within the 14 days.
“I find that on the balance of probabilities it’s more likely than not this NIP was actually not served on the registered keeper of the vehicle within the 14 days as required.
“What I find is the fact it did not arrive in the post room of Bentley Motors Ltd until February 7 and therefore was one day outside the legal limit.
“The defendant in this case cannot be convicted.”
Mr Freeman, who trademarked the nickname “Mr Loophole” in 2008, gained fame after helping a host of A-list clients hold onto their driving licences.
He counts Sir Alex Ferguson, Andrew Flintoff, and Colin Montgomerie among his celebrity clientele.