Mr Loophole defends rabbi death claim

By Jonathan Kalmus, June 12, 2014
Nick Freeman

Nick Freeman

Jewish celebrity lawyer Nick Freeman this week stood by his controversial attempt to shift part of the blame for the death of rabbi struck by a speeding car on to the victim himself.

Rabbi Hyman Steinberg, 82, was struck as he walked to synagogue in Salford at night in December 2012.

Mr Freeman's firm represented driver Simon Martins, from Whitefield, at Manchester Crown Court last week.

He admitted causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving and Judge Maureen Roddy gave him a suspended eight-month jail sentence and 300 hours of community service.

Afterwards, Mr Freeman, known as Mr Loophole for saving celebrities from driving bans, blamed the rabbi's traditional black clothing. He said: "Had Mr Steinberg been wearing something reflective, this tragic collision might well have been averted.

"Sadly, because he was 'invisible', Mr Steinberg has lost his life, his family are left distraught, the community has been robbed of a much-loved and respected rabbi, and a young man must live with the guilt for the rest his life."

Manchester MP John Leech, former Lib Dem transport spokesman, said Mr Freeman was "trying to defend the indefensible". He said: "To suggest that someone who normally wears dark clothing to wear reflective clothing so that careless drivers are less likely to hit them is ludicrous."

But Mr Freeman responded: "If you look at the Crown Prosecution's sentence guidelines, a factor is contributory negligence from the pedestrian - that is the law. The driver is responsible and admitted that on a limited basis, but unfortunately the pedestrian also bears responsibility."

Rabbi Steinberg's son-in-law, Cyril Rose, himself a solicitor, said: "What has made the family seething is not the defendant's sentence but Mr Freeman apportioning the blame for the death to my father-in-law and away from a man who was driving carelessly."

Last updated: 10:42am, June 13 2014