Aussie barrister vows to sue police after 'offensive' number plates are seized
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A Sydney barrister has threatened to sue NSW Police after officers pulled him over and seized his personalised Lamborghini number plates deemed “offensive” by transport bureaucrats.
Peter Lavac, a renowned criminal defence barrister and former Hong Kong crown prosecutor, has been locked in a battle with Transport NSW since August, when he was ordered to hand back his prized “LGOPNR” plates.
The self-described playboy argued that most people did not know that the plates meant “leg opener” – a “tongue-in-cheek” reference to his reputation as a ladies’ man – and that the phrase was not offensive regardless.
“How on earth can recreational sex between consenting adults ever be offensive or demeaning in any way, shape or form?” he told news.com.au in October. “Recreational sex is a celebration of the human body and human spirit – how can that ever be offensive?”
He challenged the letter in local court on September 1, where he won on a technicality. Transport NSW continued to pursue him, and the next month sent him another letter informing him it would be cancelling his registration.
Mr Lavac appealed again – but four days before the case was due to be heard in court, Transport NSW sent police, “lights furiously flashing”, to seize his plates while he was 200 metres away from his northern beaches home on Thursday afternoon.
“They finally unleashed the nanny state’s ultimate weapon – the boys in blue,” Mr Lavac told news.com.au on Sunday.
“The cop pulled me over, checked my licence, breathalysed me, and for the first time in my life he drug tested me. He then told me he’d been directed by his boss to stop me and seize my plates. He got an email from his boss, so they’d obviously put a target on my back.”
Mr Lavac said he explained to the officer that the case was pending appeal, and showed him the court documents.
The officer went back to his car and got on the radio to his boss.
“Meanwhile he called for backup and three other officers arrived,” he said. “They must have feared I was going to engage them in a wild west gunfight and escape and speed off in my high-powered racing car. I thought it was a bit of overkill.”
The original officer then came back and apologised but “said he was just following orders”, Mr Lavac said.
“I told him that I’m going to sue him and his boss for unlawful seizure of property and unlawful detention of me. He then ordered me to remove the plates. I refused, and I said, ‘If you want the plates you remove them yourself.’”
Mr Lavac then stood on the footpath and watched “with great amusement” as the officers “struggled valiantly” for almost an hour to remove the plates, which were attached with double-sided tape and “some sort of super glue”.
“They finally found some screwdrivers and after much huffing and puffing they succeeded finally to get the plates off,” he said.
Before they removed the plates, the barrister had requested that he be allowed to drive back to his garage 200 metres away under police escort. “He refused on the grounds that if I had an accident, he would be in the s**t and could lose his job,” Mr Lavac said.
“I said, ‘Well, mate, that ship has already sailed. You’re already in the s**t, I’m going to sue your arse.’”
One police car took his number plates to Transport NSW at Brookvale, and while Mr Lavac was waiting for a tow truck the second car “circled the block several times hoping that I would attempt to drive back the 200 metres without the plates, and then they could nab me”.
“I wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction,” he said.
Mr Lavac added, “If these fat cat desk jockeys and overzealous cops have the balls to go after me, a seasoned and hardened criminal lawyer, for trivial, Mickey Mouse bulls**t like this, what possible chance does a little Aussie battler have against people like these? Not a snowball’s chance in hell.”
A NSW Police spokeswoman confirmed that at about 12.30pm on December 3, police from Northern Beaches Area Command “stopped a Lamborghini on Pittwater Road at Manly after checks revealed the registration had been cancelled”.
“Officers spoke with a 74-year-old man before seizing his number plates due to them being cancelled in November,” she said. “No further police action was taken.”