David Beckham has been accused of “shirking his responsibility” as a role model after he avoided prosecution over a speeding charge on a technicality.
The former England football captain enlisted the services of a celebrity lawyer dubbed “Mr Loophole” after he was accused of driving a loaned Bentley at 59mph in a 40mph zone in west London.
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.
After a trial at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, a judge accepted that the ticket had not arrived in time and Beckham could not be convicted.
His lawyer, Nick Freeman, told reporters that Beckham, who was not in court, was “very relieved with the verdict and very happy with his legal team”.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said the road safety charity hopes the star “recognises his responsibility as a role model and makes clear to all those who look up to him that speeding is not acceptable”.
“It is hugely disappointing to see a role model like David Beckham shirking his responsibility and getting off a speeding prosecution on a mere technicality,” he said.
“At the speed Mr Beckham was reported to be travelling, his stopping distance would be double that of someone driving within the limit – he should count himself very lucky that no incident occurred and tragedy was avoided.”
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.”
The 43-year-old was accused of driving the car over the speed limit on the A40 shortly after 5.30pm on January 23.
The NIP was one of 3,487 sent by Scotland Yard on February 2, which go by first-class post, and should have arrived at Bentley, as the registered keeper of the vehicle, no later than February 6.
After hearing witnesses from both the Metropolitan Police and Bentley Motors Ltd, District Judge Barbara Barnes said she was satisfied it did not arrive until February 7.
Mr Freeman previously helped Beckham overturn an eight-month driving ban in 1999 after successfully arguing that the footballer was trying to escape a paparazzi photographer.
The lawyer, who trademarked the nickname “Mr Loophole” in 2008, gained fame after helping a host of A-list clients hold on to their driving licences.
He counts ex-Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, cricketer Andrew Flintoff and golfer Colin Montgomerie among his celebrity clientele.