Nick Freeman on his passions for cars, dogs, the South of France and helping people get access to justice
Cars have always fascinated me, and it all started with my first vehicle which was a red Triumph Herald 13/60 Convertible. I can see its brown leather steering wheel, Motorola radio and fancy plastic wheel rims as clear as day. It cost £520 and my dad paid my first year’s insurance. I felt I was the bee’s knees and I’d T-Cut it every week - it was, without doubt, my pride and joy!
My collection has moved on a bit since then. And I now own a 1951 Jaguar XK 120 Roadster; a Bentley Azure; an Aston Martin Vanquish Volante and a Porsche 911 Turbo Cab.
I bought the Jaguar back in 1989 as an investment and I was actually offered a £26,000 premium the day after it arrived, but I fell in love with its style and beauty and resolved never to sell it.
I purchased the Bentley brand new in 2006 to replace my first Azure which I had planned to keep forever, but there were certain dynamic failings, for example; when you looked over your left shoulder you could see the skyline under the roof! The new Azure retained the earlier car’s character but provided a much more modern driving experience. Again I love the style – especially its quintessential ‘Britishness’ - all that leather and wood and the power of a 6.75 litre twin turbo engine. It is something to behold even though it is rather on the large side!
In my mind, my Aston is the most beautiful car on the road today and it is a true successor in terms of style and character to the DBS Volante which it replaced.
Finally, my Porsche is my bit of fun. It’s the last of the 997 Generation 2 models. It’s really just a posh go-cart with 500bhp and four-wheel drive. It’s small, compact, intimate inside and yet is incredibly practical for my lifestyle (one man, one wife and one dog!)
The one car I would still like to own (and the ultimate car ever created, in my view) is the 1963 E-type Jaguar.
Dogs mean so much to me as they fill a void that humans can’t get close to. They are your best friend, provide unconditional love, are incredibly intelligent and intuitive, can read your moods and fit in with your lifestyle; and they make you get out and exercise.
My favourite breed is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier for all the above reasons and more. They get a bad reputation, but the reality is they are nowhere near their undeserved reputation and are actually known as a “nanny” dog! I love their unique look, character and temperament. George – my much loved dog - is from the South of France so (in my biased view!) is way more handsome than most. I always say that Staffies are a little like a Porsche Turbo – they come in a relatively small package but punch way beyond their weight!
It’s a well-known fact that dogs enhance our lifestyle. We all lead hectic lives but owning a dog makes you exercise. After a hard day in court, I enjoy a vigorous walk with George; it’s good for the mind and the soul.
The South of France...
My physical escape – and where I go to recharge – is our house in the South of France. It’s situated in the stunning village of Theoule Sur Mer. We purchased the property in 2001 but had been visiting the village since around 1991. The house itself is in a Provencale style but is contemporary.
There is something about the area that I’m drawn to - it oozes class and style and boasts the most stunning scenery. The lifestyle is unparalleled and because I enjoy driving, the house is accessible. It’s 1,050 miles from my home in Cheshire – a mere hop!
We visit as often as possible and when there we swap the hustle and bustle of the Cheshire lifestyle for a Mediterranean one. We exercise, walk, play golf and enjoy the amazing food and drink. But... I do tend to work six days a week. The ironic thing is that I’m more productive there than when I’m in the UK!
Access to Justice...
On a more serious note, one of my real passions is people having access to justice. I’ve recently been helping a Yorkshire farmer called Kenneth Hugill. Kenneth is 83 and was forced to spend more than £20,000 to fund his own defence after the police and CPS prosecuted him for shooting a convicted burglar in the foot, who he thought was stealing diesel from his isolated farm.
He was acquitted and was yet unable to recover his defence costs. In my view, this is a monstrous situation which needs sorting. If you are presumed innocent and are acquitted then why shouldn’t you recover your reasonably-incurred legal costs?
I started a Just Giving page for Kenneth last month and I’m happy to report that, thanks to massive public support, his legal fees are now covered. Myself and many of my colleagues feels so strongly about the injustice caused by cutting defence costs, that I have started a petition to bring about a change in the law as it was pre 2012. In other words, upon acquittal you recover your reasonable legal costs. The petition can be found at https://www.change.org/p/justice-secretary-liz-truss-defendants-acquitted-at-court-recover-their-full-legal-fees?recruiter=696170402&utm_source=share_for_starters&utm_medium=copyLink