‘Mr Loophole' calls for mobile phone ban at the wheel, despite defending clients for same offence

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Nick Freeman poses for a photo in front of his Ferrari Portofino – Jon Super

Motorists should be banned from using hands-free phones at the wheel, according to the lawyer who has successfully defended a string of celebrities charged with such offences.

His comments came despite the revelation that he will be defending Frank Lampard, the former Chelsea player, for allegedly holding a cup of coffee and talking on the phone while driving in South Kensington.

There are new laws due to come in next year that will tighten up the rules around hand held devices and will ban people from using them for such “non-interactive” activities as taking photos or scrolling through playlists while driving.

However, motorists will still be allowed to use their phones to make hands-free calls and operate sat-nav apps, as long as the device is secure in a cradle.

But Nick Freeman – the lawyer dubbed “Mr Loophole” due to his expertise in getting clients off on legal technicalities – has said the law does not go far enough and he has called for a complete ban on mobile phones while at the wheel.

He warned that any use of a phone while driving, even if it is secure in a cradle and in hands-free mode, serves as a distraction and could lead to accidents.

‘Any form of use should be banned’

In the past, Mr Freeman successfully defended Jimmy Carr who was charged with using his phone at the wheel.

He argued that the comedian was recording a joke rather than making a call and was therefore not involved in an “interactive communication”.

But he has now warned of the dangers of using a phone for any purpose while at the wheel and has called on the Government to introduce a complete ban.

He said: “In my opinion, any form of use of a phone, except for an emergency, should be banned. The Government needs to say any use of a mobile phone in a car should be outlawed even if it is hands-free and resting in a cradle.

“If we are talking about making our roads safer, why say you can use a phone for this purpose or that purpose if it is in a cradle when in reality it is just as dangerous as if you had it pressed against your ear.

‘The stakes are just too high’

“In terms of distraction, hands-free has been equated with just below the level at which you`re permitted to drink and drive.

“Which means the chances of you having an accident using hands-free increases four-fold. The stakes are just too high.”

In 2016, psychologists at the University of Sussex found driving while talking on a hands-free phone could be as distracting as talking on a hand-held mobile.

The study, published in the Transportation Research Journal, revealed this was because conversations cause the motorist to visually imagine what they’re talking about.

Mr Freeman also suggested the penalties for using mobile phones at the wheel also needed to be made much stiffer.

He said: “The difficulty with all laws is enforcement. So, if there are no police out on the street it doesn't matter what you do with the legislation.

“We therefore need a penalty that polices itself and we need to socially stigmatise all use of mobile phones behind the wheel in the same way that we do with drink-driving.

“If the level of distraction for phone use is the same as drink-driving then I see no reason why the penalty shouldn't be exactly the same – a minimum 12 month disqualification.

“With this penalty the vast majority of people who are tempted would have second thoughts and desist.”

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