‘My Staffy is Key to my Success,’ Reveals ‘Mr Loophole’ Lawyer
BY NICK FREEMAN
The case was unusually challenging. But after scouring the client’s papers and combing the pages of my weighty law books, there still seemed no obvious legal argument.
Yet working from home that afternoon I was convinced – convinced – such an argument existed.
Having been christened ‘Mr Loophole’ by the Press for an ability to secure acquittals on the grounds of legal technicalities, I knew solutions often lurked in the darkest corners of the statute. I just had to find one.
There was only one thing for it. It was time to call upon my secret weapon: George. Not, as you might think, some eminent QC or fellow expert. Rather, the 7 year old rust red Staffy currently splayed across my feet.
Within minutes we were out of the front door and plunging across the fields near my Cheshire home.
And as dusk settled over the darkening countryside, a light bulb flashed brightly in my head and I realised the approach I’d need to pot the case. Thanks to a beautiful dog whose loyal companionship and – well, at least in my view – almost telepathic connection never fails to induce feelings of immense tranquillity and bring focus to the mind. And consequently help me on the way to a courtroom victory
As a lawyer often photographed with celebrity clients , many people assume I embrace a jet set lifestyle ( though, as it happens, I never fly because it makes me sick).
But actually I’m at my happiest walking across a deserted beach or through open fields with George at my side.
Little wonder he goes (almost) everywhere with me . I wake to the sound of his scratching at the bedroom door. We walk up to six miles every morning after which he sits across my feet when I work at home or comes with me when I go into my offices in Manchester.
In fact it’s astonishing how many clients find him to be a relaxing presence at what`s usually a fraught time in their lives.
On the days when I can’t take him with me – courts are yet to allow in dogs – and I tell him ‘daddy has to go out’, he slinks away to lie on the landing, refusing to come downstairs knowing that I’m unable to set the alarm!
When we go out together in the car, he offers a paw for me to hold as I drive long. And as I flop on the couch at the end of a long day he winds himself around me with octopus-like propriety.
There’s no doubt that George – whom I got from a breeder in the South of France – reflects the sublime joy of owning a Staffie . A breed much maligned despite being recently voted the nation’s top dog.
Indeed in 2014, I became so incensed by relentless bad publicity that I set up a website Save the Staffy to try and right what I felt to be an appalling misconception.
I first fell in love with Staffies after spotting a gorgeous black pup on a beach in Abersoch nearly 25 years ago.
Though I’d always been a dog lover – as a child I was devoted to my Jack Russell, Tammy– my job left little space for one in my life. With cases all over the country , I spent most weeks in hotel rooms. But in the 1990s I realised I didn`t just want a dog. I needed one.
My career was starting to take off – I was soon to defend Sir Alex Ferguson and David Beckham in quick succession and my office phone rang incessantly .
Ironically, it was having that kind of pressure which made me realise how much I needed a dog (even though it would be my then wife and our two children who would have to be in loco parentis when I was away).
I also realised that when I set up my own firm, Freeman and Co, I didn’t have to asked anybody`s permission to bring my pet into the office.
That was how Pippa, a red and white bitch, followed eight years later by Rocco, a red and white male, came to join the Freeman family.
But there’s a price to pay for forming such a close connection with your pets. Though Pippa lived to a fine old age – she died at 15 – Rocco’s passing was untimely. He developed a blood disorder in 2011 which transformed him from a lively dog and profoundly loyal companion to a scraggy, helpless animal. When he was put down, it took me two years before I could even talk about him – or think about getting another dog.
Now that I have George I have adapted my life accordingly. I’ve stopped playing at golf clubs, going to pubs or staying in hotels where he won’t be welcome.
Staffies have been integral to my life. They’ve helped me win cases, are who I most want to be with after celebrating a courtroom victory and have supported me through the dark times of divorce and bereavement
My website may well be called Save the Staffy. But there have been so many times when the Staffy has saved me.