Make pedestrians wear reflective clothing, says 'Mr Loophole' lawyer who defended killer driver

Celebrity solicitor says people on bike or foot need to make themselves visible to motorists

by Simon_MacMichael   June 3, 2014  

Manchester Crown Court (licensed CC-BY-2.0-SA by Mikey on Flickr)

A lawyer nicknamed ‘Mr Loophole’ who has helped a string of celebrity clients avoid being convicted of motoring offences says that pedestrians should have to wear high-visibility clothing at night.

He made his comments after a man he represented was sentenced for causing the death through careless driving of a rabbi in Manchester, reports the Daily Express.

Hyman Steinberg, known as Chaim, was rushing on foot to his synagogue on Leicester Road in Salford in poor weather in December 2012 when he was struck by a car driven by 24-year-old Simon Martins. 

He died in hospital from head injuries later that day, his 83rd birthday.

Martins has received an eight-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to the charge at Manchester Crown Court.

His lawyer, Nick Freeman, says that if the victim, who was dressed in black in accordance with his orthodox Jewish beliefs, had been wearing reflective clothing, he may not have been killed.

He has called on politicians to make it compulsory for pedestrians to wear such clothing in the hours of darkness.

Following the hearing, Mr Freeman 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 now live with the guilt for the rest his life.

"The time has now come for the government to require pedestrians to effectively light up at night.

"We are now living in hard-pressed economic times, when councils are saving money by switching off street lights at night.
"I'm not suggesting everyone must wear a hi-vis jacket - but something reflective that would give them a visible presence, such as a vest, arm bands or belt.

"Pedestrians, motorists and cyclists all share road space and in my view must assume responsibility for their visibility."

The Manchester-based lawyer acquired his nickname, which he has trademarked, through his ability to get clients off charges related to motoring offences typically because correct procedures have not been followed or because of some other technicality.

Among celebrity-based clients he has successfully represented are the footballers David Beckham and Wayne Rooney as well as former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, musicians Van Morrison and Ian Brown, and motoring journalists Tiff Needell and Jeremy Clarkson.

Alfa Romeo sent the latter a speeding ticket in 2007 after a car it had lent him was clocked travelling at 82mph on the A40 in Ruislip, West London, where the speed limit is 50mph.

However, Clarkson was found not guilty and was awarded costs in the case due to the prosecution’s failure to establish the identity of the driver at the wheel of the vehicle, according to a BBC report at the time.

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According to the Manchester Evening News, he was driving at around 42 in a 30 zone, and had sent a text message earlier in his journey. The deceased had almost reached the pavement, suggesting that a. the victim thought that he had sufficient time to cross, which would have been correct had the driver not been speeding, and that b. the victim was in the driver's field of view for quite some time.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3349 posts]
4th June 2014 - 6:28

21 Likes

fukawitribe wrote:
Him Up North wrote:
It's interesting, isn't it, how this article is primarily about car vs. pedestrian (the word "cyclists" is mentioned once) and the comments section is full of opprobrium for the shyster.

I thought the article was primarily about someone being an obnoxious and manipulative wanker whose client killed someone myself... fair game i'd say.

Don't get me wrong. It's deserved. I meant the comments at the foot of the newspaper article. If the victim had been riding a bike the bile may well have been directed differently, is my point.

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posted by Him Up North [231 posts]
4th June 2014 - 6:28

8 Likes

The guys a defence lawyer, should be surprised with anything they say?

Don't know the first thing about him and nor do I wish to but wouldn't surprise me if pressed that he'd refuse to wear hi viz. Defence lawyers will try to pull whatever they can to lessen the punishments on their clients.

Sad situation, horrible for the victims families but this is lazy, lazy journalism aimed at causing, well this!

posted by SB76 [81 posts]
4th June 2014 - 7:39

9 Likes

SB76 wrote:
Does anyone actually know anything about this? The article is actually short on any kind of detail, how was the driver driving? How lit was the road....

Does it matter? It's dark half the time. The idea is to not drive into stuff - even if it's dark, or raining, or sunny, or whatever. It's not like darkness is some freakish anomaly like an undiscovered WWII landmine in the middle of the road, it's something that happens for several hours of every day and for which we ensure cars are equipped with lights by which to see.

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [420 posts]
4th June 2014 - 8:13

22 Likes

c****************************************************nt end of discussion.

posted by surreyxc [48 posts]
4th June 2014 - 8:27

10 Likes

Bez wrote:
SB76 wrote:
Does anyone actually know anything about this? The article is actually short on any kind of detail, how was the driver driving? How lit was the road....

Does it matter? It's dark half the time. The idea is to not drive into stuff - even if it's dark, or raining, or sunny, or whatever. It's not like darkness is some freakish anomaly like an undiscovered WWII landmine in the middle of the road, it's something that happens for several hours of every day and for which we ensure cars are equipped with lights by which to see.

Not really but the article had little detail as to if the driver was speeding or driving recklessly. For all i knew, the road may have been heavily treed and with not road lighting when the rabbi suddenly appeared from nowhere OR the driver could've been speeding without care and attention.

Sometimes, just sometimes and i do mean very occasionally, the driver is not to blame, i was wanting to know more detail as without the detail, how can you come to any conclusion.

posted by SB76 [81 posts]
4th June 2014 - 8:28

4 Likes

SB76 wrote:
Not really but the article had little detail as to if the driver was speeding or driving recklessly. For all i knew, the road may have been heavily treed and with not road lighting when the rabbi suddenly appeared from nowhere OR the driver could've been speeding without care and attention.

Sometimes, just sometimes and i do mean very occasionally, the driver is not to blame, i was wanting to know more detail as without the detail, how can you come to any conclusion.

As it says in the article, the driver pleaded guilty, which should tell you something - especially given the fact his lawyer is a specialist in getting people off the hook.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [8285 posts]
4th June 2014 - 9:34

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SB76 wrote:
For all i knew, the road may have been heavily treed and with not road lighting when the rabbi suddenly appeared from nowhere

Nothing appears from nowhere. He was a rabbi, not Dumbledore.

posted by David Portland [89 posts]
4th June 2014 - 9:54

17 Likes

I know this road & this area quite well. This road is often used as a short cut or a cut through road. The majority of the roads in this area have speed bumps but this one doesn't - not that speed bumps make much of a difference to the average speed. During the times when the synagogues are open it gets very busy with cars parked either side & people rushing about. It's pretty bad & I'm glad I don't live there. still doesn't excuse the accident, it's quite obvious that you SLOW down when there are parked cars.

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posted by Noelieboy [92 posts]
4th June 2014 - 10:05

13 Likes

Not sure if he's just trolling or is that stupid.

blog rowerowy - my blog about bicycles (written in Polish, but feel free to visit me! Smile )

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posted by mikroos [192 posts]
4th June 2014 - 10:32

8 Likes

You take your victim as you find them.

The victim being in the weaker position than you is no defence for your actions. I am not a lawyer but's a very simple principle.

I am not sure how victim blaming has managed to creep into our judicial system but it needs to stop.

posted by MKultra [243 posts]
4th June 2014 - 11:11

6 Likes

"Pedestrians, motorists and cyclists all share road space and in my view must assume responsibility for their kinetic energy."

fixed that for him.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [700 posts]
4th June 2014 - 11:33

9 Likes

I would love to get my hands on that immoral sack of s**t, clearly something mentally screwed with someone who has such a perverse view on life and right and wrong.

Plus the Judge is a dick following the tripe. I feel sorry for the Police, they are stuck in a stupid legal system where the guilt get off and the innocent suffer.

'It's the closest you can get to flying'
Robin Williams response when asked why he enjoyed riding so much

posted by Simmo72 [358 posts]
4th June 2014 - 12:05

6 Likes

Maybe has shares in a hi-vis supplier as well as earning a shed load as 'Mr Loophole'? Thinking

PD

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posted by pd500 [3 posts]
4th June 2014 - 12:34

4 Likes

FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
"Pedestrians, motorists and cyclists all share road space and in my view must assume responsibility for their kinetic energy."

Yep. You nailed it.

Really, though?

posted by workhard [388 posts]
4th June 2014 - 13:29

5 Likes

SB76 wrote:
the road may have been heavily treed and with not road lighting when the rabbi suddenly appeared from nowhere

Ah. As much an act of magic as Mr Freeman's notion that the layman can quite casually achieve the eternally enigmatic feat of invisibility.

http://beyondthekerb.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/from-out-of-nowhere/

For what it's worth, here (at least, on this road, and close to or at this junction) is where the collision occurred.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.512576,-2.251263,3a,75y,179.98h,67.01t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1syzaNzhMuoSIjpnp1HpGRYg!2e0

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [420 posts]
4th June 2014 - 14:15

6 Likes

"Sadly, because he was invisible, Mr Steinberg has lost his life."

Really?, I guess the driver did have some mitigation; the poor rabbi had actually achieved invisibility.

What a ridiculous thing to say, the driver has a responsibility to see whatever is on the road. Use lights, slow down, I don't know; just don't kill people eh!

posted by Mountainboy [74 posts]
4th June 2014 - 14:27

9 Likes

Chronicle Live manages to get a little further into this case
http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/gateshead-rabbi-hyma...

"A court in Manchester heard he was driving at up to 42mph on a 30mph road." So interesting that the solution for saving Rabbi Hyman Steinberg life is for the Rabbi to be wearing something reflective, and not for Simon Martins to obey the law which would have given him around 30% more reaction time and reduced his impact speed.

Interesting too that Chronicle describes Rabbi Steinberg as walking while the Express apparently thinks that 82 year olds run really fast while apparently wearing an invisibility cloak.

I am most disturbed though by the idea that we should change the law. Requiring people to wear something to mark them out as a non-motorists is a new low.

Edit - and I have newfound respect for Mirror journalists http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/mr-loophole-grandad-killed-speeding... who manage to tease out "Martins, who had sent a text message from behind the wheel just minutes before the collision". This accident had nothing to do with the presence or absence of reflective gear.

posted by johndonnelly [26 posts]
4th June 2014 - 16:03

9 Likes

Yeah perhaps if the rabbi had something on his coat to mark him out you know like a yellow star perhaps.

Mr. loophole should change the first four letters of his moniker.

P.S. I used that analogy to describe how offensive I find the lawyers comments and not belittle what happened.

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posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [596 posts]
4th June 2014 - 16:12

5 Likes

I'm surprised at the comments attacking the lawyers statement about pedestrians making themselves more visible at night. I'm not commenting on the case which has brought about this comment, just the issue of being seen.
I completely agree with him, incidentally I'm a car driver, cyclist...and a pedestrian. Dark winter nights, plainly cause problems with visibility, and I'd be surprised if most people commenting here haven't at some point, struggled to see someone in the road, on such nights, particularly if they are wearing dark clothes.
In Scandinavia, where they know dark evenings/nights better than most, most people wear or carry something reflective in order to make themselves more visible. This can be something like a simple armband, or even a tag carried on a handbag strap.
It's simple good common sense.
I'm not excusing drivers or anyone else with these comments, but to expect perfect vision, and behaviour from road users in poor light/conditions just doesn't make sense.

TerryL

posted by El Tel [7 posts]
4th June 2014 - 19:59

6 Likes

El Tel wrote:
I'd be surprised if most people commenting here haven't at some point, struggled to see someone in the road, on such nights, particularly if they are wearing dark clothes.

I don't know about you but on "dark winter nights" (are they darker than summer nights?) or when visibility is in any way affected, I adjust my speed accordingly.

El Tel wrote:
In Scandinavia, where they know dark evenings/nights better than most, most people wear or carry something reflective in order to make themselves more visible. This can be something like a simple armband, or even a tag carried on a handbag strap.

I wear reflective things at night on the bike. Because, to some extent, I'll clutch at what straws I can - despite the fact that research shows that particular straw to be futile, and, more importantly in this discussion, despite it not making the slightest difference to the fact that people should be driving such that they can safely stop within the distance they can see to be clear and such that they can account for "unpredictable" (really, "unpredicted") events.

And there's the rub: just because a particular measure seems, to an individual, to be a wise move does not mean it should be law. Lots of women carry rape alarms, but that does not mean it should be law for a woman to carry one. I stopped going out in large towns because I was fed up with aggressive blokes looking drunkenly for fights, but that does not mean a Saturday night curfew of town centres should be law.

There may be arguments why personal protection should be law in certain cases - seat belts and motorcycle helmets perhaps the most pertinent examples - but people's individual perceptions and straw-clutching are not such arguments. Were there conclusive evidence to show a reduction of collisions when hi-viz is used, that might - if we set aside for now the bigger issues of victim-blaming and the unsustainable arms race of personal armour - start to shift the argument. But the only credible research I've seen shows that there is no such reduction, day or night.

El Tel wrote:
I'm not excusing drivers or anyone else with these comments, but to expect perfect vision, and behaviour from road users in poor light/conditions just doesn't make sense.

There's a difference between realistically expecting it, and legally demanding it. We legally demand people drive safely. We don't reasonably expect everyone to do so, but we demand it. To make hi-viz law would, particularly in the face of the research, undermine our demand for safe driving, by saying that people can't be expected not to drive into something that isn't illuminated. And that would be A Bad Thing.

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posted by Bez [420 posts]
4th June 2014 - 20:45

11 Likes

maybe lawyers should have to wear high-viz at all times so we can all make sure we give them a wide berth if we see one in the street

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posted by Northernbike [151 posts]
4th June 2014 - 21:46

4 Likes

Bez wrote:

There may be arguments why personal protection should be law in certain cases - seat belts and motorcycle helmets perhaps the most pertinent examples

You generally talk good sense Bez, but you should be aware that seatbelts cost the lives of cyclists and pedestrians.

Members of PACTS ( Parliamentary Advisory Committee on Traffic Safety) in an article in the statistical journal "Significance" have admitted this.

"A significant omission because the authors, all defenders of the seat belt law, acknowledge an effect of the law of important consequence to vulnerable road users. They say “the clear reduction in death and injury to car occupants is appreciably offset by extra deaths among pedestrians and cyclists.”"

http://www.john-adams.co.uk/2013/03/24/the-biggest-lie/

Adams has a lot more to say on the effect of seat belts.

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posted by felixcat [255 posts]
4th June 2014 - 22:08

9 Likes

It may be common sense to wear hiviz, but rule 126 of the Highway Code is also common sense. It says

"Drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear. "

This does not mean, carry on unless you see something in the way, but, unless you can see there is nothing in the way within your braking distance, slow down.

Why do we see so much blather about hiviz, which is a very weak protection, but so little mention of rule 126? If drivers obeyed this rule hiviz would not be needed.

All this talk about hiviz is meant to make it safer for drivers to break rule 126. There are many reasons why ignoring this rule can lead to a crash. Some of them involve objects rather more unyielding than a cyclist or pedestrian.

Drivers are implicitly encouraged to behave as if any obstacle will be lit up or hiviz. It would be safer for all concerned if they were reminded much more often of rule 126.

How often is this rule mentioned? How often is the vulnerable road user told that it is their responsibility to take the precaution of hiviz, when all cyclists know that covering yourself with lights is not enough to keep you safe?

The assumption is that drivers will break the H.C. and that it is up to us to do what little we can to keep ourselves safe.

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posted by felixcat [255 posts]
4th June 2014 - 22:27

9 Likes

FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
"Pedestrians, motorists and cyclists all share road space and in my view must assume responsibility for their kinetic energy."

Highest time to introduce presumed liability. The above definition sums it up neatly. As also Bez explains, the law must be equitable, clear and expedient and especially well balanced to protect individual liberties. Otherwise pedestrians will soon be prosecuted for not wearing high enough viz clothing, cyclists for not carrying lights that beam far enough and the roads will be cleared from all those inconvenient obstacles. No more fatal injuries. Even when speeding whilst texting. Mission accomplished.

Regarding the fatal collision, a waste of human life, a disgrace of decency , a shame of the judicial system. All my sympathy goes to the beraved family and friends of the slain rabbi.

The entropy of the universe increases constantly. Carpe diem.

posted by noether [67 posts]
5th June 2014 - 4:51

5 Likes

El Tel wrote:
I'm surprised at the comments attacking the lawyers statement about pedestrians making themselves more visible at night. I'm not commenting on the case which has brought about this comment, just the issue of being seen.
I completely agree with him, incidentally I'm a car driver, cyclist...and a pedestrian. Dark winter nights, plainly cause problems with visibility, and I'd be surprised if most people commenting here haven't at some point, struggled to see someone in the road, on such nights, particularly if they are wearing dark clothes.
In Scandinavia, where they know dark evenings/nights better than most, most people wear or carry something reflective in order to make themselves more visible. This can be something like a simple armband, or even a tag carried on a handbag strap.
It's simple good common sense.
I'm not excusing drivers or anyone else with these comments, but to expect perfect vision, and behaviour from road users in poor light/conditions just doesn't make sense.

Actually we expect drivers to follow the Highway Code - ensure that you can stop in the distance you can see to be clear. Not 'hope is clear', not 'cannot see is not clear'. Just 'can see is clear'. The driver is the done with the deadly weapon, so the driver has the responsibility. All else is just victim blaming shite.

posted by oldstrath [156 posts]
5th June 2014 - 5:53

5 Likes

If the pedestrian/cyclist is wearing hi-viz, would this make any 'accident' in future be a case of murder - as the motorist would obviously have seen them in advance but hit them anyway....

posted by JeevesBath [127 posts]
5th June 2014 - 7:14

7 Likes

felixcat wrote:
You generally talk good sense Bez, but you should be aware that seatbelts cost the lives of cyclists and pedestrians.

Yes, indeed - sorry, what I meant was this: There are demonstrable and significant benefits to the first party in the cases of seatbelts and motorcycle helmets on both an individual and a population level - unlike hi-viz, where neither are demonstrable. That's what I was alluding to when I said "there may be arguments" in favour of legislation in such cases. It's not to say that there aren't arguments against.

But well spotted, fellow pedant Smile

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [420 posts]
5th June 2014 - 13:09

0 Likes

JeevesBath wrote:
If the pedestrian/cyclist is wearing hi-viz, would this make any 'accident' in future be a case of murder - as the motorist would obviously have seen them in advance but hit them anyway....

I'm sure thats exactly what happens every time a cyclist wearing hi-viz gets run down by someone who followed them for a loooooong time before deciding, "Just do it". I mean, the newspapers are just full of drivers who've killed someone being arrested and charged with murder and being banned for life and sent to prison for that.

Hi-viz seems to be used as a stick to hit cyclists ("He wasn't wearing hi-viz, so its at least partly his fault") and yet it seems never to be used conversely ("He was wearing hi-viz, so you must have seen him and we'll double your sentence").

posted by brooksby [166 posts]
5th June 2014 - 13:39

4 Likes

Bez wrote:
There are demonstrable and significant benefits to the first party in the cases of seatbelts and motorcycle helmets on both an individual and a population level - unlike hi-viz, where neither are demonstrable.

But well spotted, fellow pedant Smile

You should have a good look at Adams website. He argues that there are not demonstrable benefits to the seat belt wearer. His correspondence with the head of the PACTS , Rob Gifford is worth reading. To my mind he shows that the PACTS claims on lives saved is not proved.

He also publishes the text of the Isles Report into seat belt efficacy.
When the seat belt law was passing through Parliament Isles was asked by the DoT to look at the results of seat belt compulsion in those countries which already had laws. He came to the conclusion that no benefit could be shown,
This was just before the vote on our law took place, but our legislators were not allowed to see this piece of evidence. The report was suppressed and only came to light when it was leaked to the "New Scientist" some years later.

I may well be a pedant but I don't think that my post was evidence of this.

I do not think you would want to argue for a law which costs the lives of cyclists, in any case.

http://www.john-adams.co.uk/2007/01/04/seat-belt-legislation-and-the-isl...

http://www.john-adams.co.uk/2009/09/23/open-letter-to-executive-director...

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posted by felixcat [255 posts]
5th June 2014 - 14:47

6 Likes