Millionaire cricketer Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff has escaped a driving ban for speeding in his Bentley after arguing “exceptional hardship” to magistrates.
Flintoff, 36, was already on nine points for speeding and in danger of an automatic ban with another three points after admitting being behind the wheel when flashed by a camera doing 87mph on the M6, near Linstock, Cumbria on January 28 this year, Carlisle Magistrates’ Court heard.
But JPs accepted a ban would amount to exceptional hardship because of the effect on others who rely on his extensive charity work and the privacy of his three children.
Instead, the former England cricket captain, caught speeding four times in the last three years, was given the three points on his licence and fined £330 but allowed to keep driving.
His solicitor Michael Neofytou, told the court a ban would also affect his TV work - with the defendant due to be filming a show tomorrow in Northern Ireland, a “road trip” where he drives a fish and chips van powered by the van’s cooking fat.
Flintoff, of Mottram St Andrew, Cheshire, sat listening to his solicitor outline his case for most of the 45 minute hearing.
He was warned after arguing exceptional hardship he would not be able to use the same reasons again in court if he was caught speeding again in the next three years.
Before his latest conviction Flintoff was caught speeding on August 12, 2011, June 7, 2012 and June 9, 2014, the court heard.
The latest offence would take him to 12 points and an automatic ban after “totting up” all his driving points.
But Mr Neofytou, representing Flintoff, submitted to magistrates a ban would amount to exceptional hardship, not for the defendant, but to others.
Mr Neofytou mentioned to JPs the defendant’s “illustrious” cricket career for Lancashire and England and his MBE in 2005 but did not “want to dwell” on those matters, he said.
He continued: “What’s much less publicised about him and less well known is what he does off the pitch. This is really one of the stronger arguments for exceptional hardship, what he does off the radar, for those less fortunate than himself.”
Mr Neofytou said Flintoff set up the AF Foundation, a charity, in 2007 after retiring from professional cricket, run by himself and his wife, Rachael.
He had helped to raise £800,000 for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool and was attempting to raise another £40,000 to bring it up to £1 million, the amount raised for Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
“He’s constantly raising money, or trying to when not in his professional role,” Mr Neofytou said.
“He’s very much a Lancashire lad whose status - he’s never got above himself.”
He said Flintoff drives himself to charity speaking arrangements, cricket matches and auctions of cricket memorabilia and “never takes a fee”.
He added: “We pray in aid the hardship that would be caused to those people if he was not able to attend these days, charity events.”
Flintoff and his wife “juggle” running the foundation while looking after their three children, two boys and a girl aged nine, eight and six, the court heard.
The father drove his children to school and various activities with their “games kits and hockey sticks”.
Mr Neofytou added: “We invite you to consider the hardship on them if he was disqualified from driving.”
JPs were reminded by the clerk of the court in law a defence of exceptional hardship must mean “beyond hardship”, it must be exceptional.
After retiring for 20 minutes to consider their sentence, David Johnson, chair of the bench, fined Flintoff £330 with an additional £85 court costs and £30 victim impact surcharge but told him he would keep his driving licence after accepting his exceptional hardship defence.
Mr Johnson said: “Because of your position, the fact that you are well known, clearly the impact has to be on others, more than you yourself.”
He said there would be a “potential question mark over the privacy” of the defendant’s children if he was not able to drive them about and it would affect his ability to attend charity events across the country making personal appearances.
Mr Neofytou told the court the fines and other costs would be paid by the defendant today.