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Topics: Irish, fishing

Thursday, 28 October 2004

image for Thatcher in the Frame
Thatcher Is Worried

When a state-of-the-art fishing trawler sank to the bottom of the Irish Sea on 18 February 1992, it took with it the lives of 26 crewmen, a cat, a parrot called Maurice and a mystery that has still to be unravelled 12 years on.
No-one knows definitively why the Spanish-registered Manuel sank in one of the UK's worst fishing tragedies but there has been no shortage of theories.
Some say a British submarine became caught in its fishing nets and dragged the trawler underwater, others say that it was a conspiracy aimed at stopping the Spanish stealing captain Birds eyes fish.
Until recently these were the only tangible theories now it transpires that the iron lady herself may have ordered the sinking of the ship. In 1988 the Conservative government passed laws intended to stop Spanish fisherman increasing their take of fish by the ploy of using British fishing quotas.
The legislation was later found to have broken European law. The Lords said that although the government's intention was to protect British fishing communities, the effect was to discriminate against Spanish nationals, thereby flouting one of the most basic principles of European law.
The law lords said the government had deliberately decided to run the risk of introducing the legislation, knowing that it could be unlawful. Justice required that the wrong should be made good.
The amount which now could be claimed by the Spanish in individual court cases has been estimated at £80m - but interest and legal costs are expected to push the total bill to be picked up by the British taxpayer at over £100m.
The case was brought by Spanish company Factortame Ltd and almost 100 other Spanish fishing companies. They are claiming for losses while their ships were laid up over three years from 1988-1991.
The amount which now could be claimed by the Spanish in individual court cases has been estimated at £80m - but interest and legal costs are expected to push the total bill to be picked up by the British taxpayer at over £100m.
Following the Icelandic codfather war in the 1970s, Spanish fishing companies started buying UK-registered ships.
In 1988, the UK Government passed the Merchant Shipping Act, preventing the Spanish-owned ships from fishing against UK quotas, or "quota-hopping".
But three years later the European Court of Justice overturned the UK's legislation.
It also ruled member states must pay compensation where a breach of European law was deemed sufficiently serious.
After the ruling John Couceiro, director of Factortame, said: "I am delighted. Margaret Thatcher was quoted as saying "I'll show the bastards"
In an unusual turn a parrot has recently surfaced claiming to be Maurice and that the sinking of the Manuel was a conspiracy between Captain Birds Eye and the Iron Lady. Maurice added "it was done in revenge for Thatcher losing the case against the Spanish fishermen, bird's eye and Thatcher were secret lovers and hatched the plan during a night of frolics and fun aboard the captain's ship."
Maurice is currently undergoing D.N.A. testing and if he is who he says he is, then this old bird maybe the undoing of another.

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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