Known as ‘Mr Loophole’, he’s the celebrity defence lawyer famed for helping the likes of David Beckham Jeremy Clarkson and Paddy McGuinness dodge prosecution for motoring offences.
Nick Freeman is the go-to man for stars who have got into trouble behind the wheel - his forensic knowlege of the Road Traffic Act securing a string of high-profile legal victories.
Now the millionaire solicitor is campaigning for new laws that would mean cyclists and e-scooter riders have to wear ‘visible ID’.
He also wants a licensing scheme for both forms of transport as well as for cyclists to be subject to the same laws as other road users.
It may raise a few eyebrows, but his e-petition has already gathered nearly 4,000 signatures - and Manchester -based Mr Freeman appears to mean business.
The 64-year-old says the boom in cycling sparked by the pandemic and the launch of several e-scooter trials - including in Salford and Rochdale - have spurred him into action.
He is now calling for greater ‘responsibility and accountability’ - and cites concerns over road safety and criminal activity involving e-scooters as the motivation behind his campaign.
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"This is not about a war between drivers and others but to have one law for all - to improve safety for all and create harmonious shared road space,” says Mr Freeman.
“While there are many responsible cyclists, there are still too many who ride with little respect for the rules of the road.
“For example, unlike motorists, there is no legal imperative for identification, so anonymity was – and remains - a gift for those who cycle with impunity."
He adds: "The same is true of those who use e-scooters - especially since only e-scooters that can be used on public roads are those rented as part of government-backed trials.”
The lawyer of 40-years now wants to see a change in legislation so that both types of riders need to display a form of compulsory identification.
He suggests wearing a ‘numbered tabard’ relating to the rider, not the bike or e-scooter.
“That way those who break the law can be brought to account,” he says.
Mr Freeman claims the aim of his petition is to make the roads safer for all - but cyclists and e-scooter riders should be on ‘parity with motorists in terms of the law’.
“Until legislation is introduced for cyclists and e-scooter riders, their anonymity will trump their accountability,” he adds.
The father-of-two hopes the petition will force Parliament to debate the matter - leading to changes in the law that will ‘make the roads safer for all of us’.
But with the vast majority of serious road accidents involving motorists, why focus on vulnerable road-users such as cyclists and e-scooter riders?
“There are more cars on the road. They cause more accidents and without question they are much better protected,” says Mr Freeman.
He points to figures showing that cyclists are 15 times more likely to be killed on British roads than motorists and adds that he has ‘profound reservations’ about the safety of e-scooter design.
“Cyclists are extremely vulnerable, as are e-scooter riders," he says.
"And because of their vulnerability and because, increasingly, statistics show they are involved in accidents is one reason I suggest we have this regulation system.”
Champions of e-scooters say they cut down congestion, help people get between public transport hubs and improve air pollution levels.
Mr Freeman accepts they have ‘many benefits’, but while they are subject to the same law as motorists, enforcement is near-impossible without a means of identifying the rider.
“We have to know at any one time who is on them. What’s the point in saying we have enforcement - speeding laws, drink driving laws - if you don’t know who you are dealing with.”
Under the tabard system he proposes riders reported for an offence would receive a legal notice in the same way motorists who speed or skip a red light do.
“That’s my main gripe with e-scooters,” he says. “They have enormous benefits from an environmental perspective but the design is inherently dangerous.”
Among his concerns are that e-scooter wheels are ‘too small’ and riders often have to rely on hand signals to indicate.
Motorists are not used to dealing with e-scooters on the road and e-scooter riders are not used to dealing with traffic on the road,” he says.
“There’s going to be a bloodbath unless the government gets hold of it and deal with it proportionately and responsibly.”
As for cyclists, he says the situation is ‘more problematic’.
He says that current legislation is not sufficient as cyclists cannot be given penalty points or bans and are not subject to the same laws.
Mr Freeman cites the case of cyclist Charlie Alliston, who was jailed for 18 months for ‘wanton or furious driving’ after knocking over and killing 44-year-old Kim Briggs in east London four years ago.
“There needs to be one set of rules for everybody: cyclists, e-scooter riders and cars,” he says.
“At the moment there are no speed restrictions on cyclists - you can have cars going at 20mph and cars going at 40mph.
“There are cyclists that go on the pavement, they go through red lights and they are never brought to account because there’s no means to find out who it is.
“You’re not telling me there’s not thousands of offences committed every day by cyclists, some of who ride very aggressively and are breaking the law.
Mr Freeman - says legislation 'needs to have some teeth - and describes the Road Traffic Act as an ‘anachronism’ that needs to be brought up to date.
“We must have a law we can enforce, otherwise it’s just a meaningless exercise - the law is redundant,” he says.
But away from the legal arguments and the road safety debate, how realistic a proposition is it?
Would it not need a huge database similar to the one for vehicles and drivers operated by the DVLA?
“It would be exactly the same as the DVLA,” says Mr Freeman.
“Anyone using a cycle would have to wear a hi-vis tabard that could be traced to whoever is using it - so it’s related to the person riding it as opposed to the vehicle. I don’t know where we would put a registration number on a bike or an e-scooter.”
But who pays for it?
“I think cyclists should contribute to the cost,” says Mr Freeman.
“There’s no such thing as a free lunch. There’s been massive investment in cycle lanes for use by e-scooters and cyclists, what’s the problem with contributing?”
And while more children cycling to school surely eases rush-hour congestion - and consequently motorists’ frustration - Mr Freeman would like to see under-16s barred from the roads.
He believes that any parent allowing a 12-year-old to cycle on the roads to school is being irresponsible - although cycle lane routes are a ‘different proposition’.
“My view is that the road is too dangerous for children,” he says. “When we were kids it was different - and it was still dangerous then.”
“How can you go on a bike and go on the road without having to prove the bike is in a roadworthy condition and you have a clue about the highway code and what the law says.
He adds: “I know there are great benefits but it’s too dangerous. We need a huge investment in infrastructure.”
His petition also calls for cycle-lanes to be made mandatory for those travelling on bike - removing the right for cyclists to use the road where there is a cycle-lane on the same route.
Believes the number of accidents involving cyclists would be cut dramatically if they had registered user numbers.
“There’s an issue with cyclists doing what they want every day. It has to stop.”
He believes that failure to reform the rules of the road will result in a ‘terrible increase in accidents involving serious injuries and worse’.
“We can’t allow that to happen,’ he says.
Mr Freeman claims to have support from both motorists and cyclists - and can’t see why anyone would object to with a petition that seeks to 'make the roads safer’.
“How can it in any way make it more dangerous?" he says.
"What I’m suggesting can’t make it more dangerous, it can only increase safety
“Are people reluctant to change or do they want a free lunch with no responsibility or accountability? I suspect the latter and they need to change their minds.”
Lime which runs the e-scooter trials in Rochdale and Salford and Transport for Greater Manchester declined to comment.
Walk-Ride Greater Manchester was approached for comment.