Not a few people have been puzzling over how Stephen O'Brien managed to get his story on the notorious "abattoir directive" so disastrously wrong – with the finger pointing firmly at Conservative Central Office research department for producing such duff gen.
But it now seems that the author of the fiction is none other than Timothy Kirkhope, Tory Yorkshire and Humberside MEP. In a speech to the European Convention on 21 January 2003, he spoke thus:
The abattoirs directive left the Commission as a 12-page document, was reduced by the French to a manageable 7-pages and expanded by the British to an unreadable and unacceptable 95-pages!These are almost exactly the words used by the unfortunate O’Brien. Yet, according to the egregious Kirkhope, the reason why "gold plating" affects the UK more than any other member state is – and he really did say this: "…because the UK, unlike many other member states, simply does not involve its MEPs in the transposition process".
One can only observe that, if his knowledge of the "abattoir directive" is any guide, the less Mr Kirkhope has to do with transposing law – or anything else, for that matter - the better.
However, to return to the substantive point, one can see now how the virus got into the system. The lofty Kirkhope pronounces, his extrusions go straight onto the Tory Party web site, unchecked, where later, some reverential party researcher lifts the words of the great man and pastes them uncritically into a report on gold plating.
No wonder O'Brien had such difficulty recalling which directive he was talking about. The claim was not based on any original research, but simply the meanderings of a Tory MEP. And once the virus was in the system, the poor man never had a chance.