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The police, needless to say, take complaints of this kind very seriously indeed. But this one was doomed from the start. Investigators reviewed the video evidence, which shows nothing resembling a lunge at the veil. Nor, at any point on the tape, does Ms Matthews indicate that she "feels" such a lunge has occurred. And this isn't a woman who has any trouble speaking her mind. The video shows her calling Fogarty a "racist" some nine or ten times: but only because of his ruling on the P-plate. If any party reels back from the other, it is him from her. Fogarty's religious affiliation has never been specified, but he weathers the harangue with a restraint worthy of a third-level Buddhist. 

The whole thing plays like a PC-era remake of the Rodney King tape. In that case, four white cops beat the tripe out of a black man on camera and got away with it. In this case, a white cop does nothing wrong, then stands there and takes it while being roundly accused of racism by someone whose ethnic origins remain, to this day, unknown.  

Impeached by the video evidence, Ms Matthews was in trouble. She was charged with knowingly making a false statement. This turned out to be a serious offence, punishable by a maximum sentence of a year in jail. She appeared before a magistrate in November. But her lawyer — the same man who represents Mamdouh Habib, as it happens — was ready with an audacious defence. It seemed that when the lady in the burqa filed the false complaint, nobody at the police station had asked her to lift her veil. Perhaps, under the circumstances, the guy behind the desk feared this would be a bad career move. In any event, the defence argued that there was really no telling who had submitted the false statement. The woman in the burqa could have been anyone.  

The magistrate didn't buy it. He ruled that the signature on the complaint matched the one on Ms Matthews's driver's licence. There was, he said, not a "shadow of a doubt" that Carnita Matthews had made the false statement, and had done so knowingly. He called her actions "deliberate, malicious and ruthless". "The system would collapse, of course, if people are making false and wrong complaints to authorities," he said. He sentenced her to six months in jail. 

At this point, one felt a twinge of sympathy for Ms Matthews. Who knew you could get six months for playing the victim card? Who knew a religious person's feelings of persecution could be proved false in a court of law? Multicultural Australia can generally be relied on to "respect" any faith-based complaint. For instance: on day two or three of the affair, right after the video evidence exposed Ms Matthews's claims as baseless, the President of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board appeared on TV to insist that in such cases "a woman police officer has got to be called" — a proposal that sounded, to the untrained ear, like the very definition of discrimination. When serious public figures go round saying things like that, who can blame Carnita Matthews for trying it on? 

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