El País says that Brussels is intending to given Spain another year to meet the deficit.

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 The European Commission want Rajoy to accelerate the higher retirement age, put up IVA, and toughen up on unemployment pay. El Mundo headlines that Mariano Rajoy has obliged the Governor of the Bank of Spain, Migul Ángel Fernández Ordóñez, to leave his post a month early, for not avoiding the banking crisis. El País says the Governor goes after the veto from the PP, and notes the PP has rejected his request to appear in Congress. La Vanguardia headlines the crisis in Bankia forces the exit of Ordóñez. Clashes with the Government have marked the end of his mandate, according to the paper. ABC says Ordóñez brings forward his goodbye, while La Razón notes that he now leaves on June 10, the day before the banks have to present their restructuring plans.


Carlos Dívar denounced again over his trips to Puerto Banus

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The President of the Supeme Court is alleged to have used public money to take his breaks. The President of the Supreme Court and head of the body which oversees the judiciary, the National Commission for Market Values, Carlos Dívar, may not be in the clear after all. He was cleared last week by the Prosecutor’s Office which archived the charge of misuse of public money, brought by another member of the Commission, Manuel Gómez Benítez, regarding Dívar’s frequent long weekends in Puerto Banús, Marbella with as many as seven bodyguards and at public expense. An estimated 13,000 € was made in some 20 weekend trips, but ‘It did not constitute a crime’, was the prosecutor’s opinion. Now though a jurists association have placed their own denuncia against Dívar for the costs of his breaks on the Costa del Sol, and they are claiming new charges of fraud or misappropriation carried out a public authority. They say they see ‘a rogue act incompatible with the ethics required for his position’, and described the earlier investigation by the Prosecutors’ Office as ‘a farce or pantomime’. Dívar has denied that the personal costs generated by the trips have been paid with public funds.


Junta de Andalucía takes a tougher line on new golf courses

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The Junta de Andalucía has rejected the construction of nine new golf courses in the region, saying the projects do not meet environmental and town planning demands. Six of the golf courses are inland and three on the coast. The problem is that most of the new projects have housing included and do not meet regulations introduced by the Junta four years ago, where they have to justify tourist interest. The affected inland projects are in El Agujetero, Osuna, and Montellano Golf in Sevilla province, Finca Corvite in Almogía and Las Lomás in Casarabonela in Málaga province, Las Lomas del Duque in Lucena, Córdoba, and Castillo de Tajarja in Chimeneas, Granada. The coastal projects are at Hoya Áltica in Almería, Las Palmares between Salobreña and Molvizar in Granada province, and the La Joyita Golf in Barbate, Cádiz.


Diva Isabel Pantoja makes a plea bargain and will not go to prison for money laundering

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Spanish Diva, Isabel Pantoja, has reached an agreement with the Prosecuting Office, and will declare herself guilty of money laundering to avoid going to jail. The prosecutor had asked for three years in prison and a 3.68 million € fine. The deal has caused surprise in the Julián Muñoz quarter. Under the deal Pantoja admits money laundering and accepts a 1.5 million € fine and a two year prison sentence. But as she has no previous record the prison sentence will be suspended as it is not over two years. She has admitted the laundering of 1.84 million € and the plea deal means she will not have to sit on the accused bench, and be photographed in a way which would damaging to her career. El Mundo says she has also been considering her elderly mother, and that was key in her doing what she could to avoid prison. Also accused in the case is her ex boyfriend, and ex Mayor of Marbella, Julián Muñoz, and his ex wife, Mayte Zaldívar, whose position has been seriously compromised by Pantoja admitting her guilt. They will now have to change their defence strategy, as Muñoz has previously spoken of the singer’s innocence. The case gets underway in the Ciudad de la Justicia in Málaga on June 28, as a separated part of the Malaya case.


Ridley Scott looking at filming in Alicante

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British director, Ridley Scott, is in Alicante looking at the possibility of filming at the Ciudad de la Luz studios. He is interested filming his next two films in Alicante. ‘The Counselor’ which stars Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, and Michael Fassbender, is based on the first screenplay written by Cormac McCarthy. The second film is as yet untitled, but has a budget of 20 million €. A possible problem is the conflict between the Ciudad de la Luz and the management company of the studios, Aguamarga. A contractual dispute is awaiting resolution in the courts, and if the current standoff continues Alicante province could lost the investment which shooting films brings.


Times are desperate in Spain. The Sun is setting on expats' Costa dreams

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It was sundowner time at the Cantina tapas bar in the picturesque village of Frigiliana, a few miles inland from the Costa del Sol town of Nerja. Inside, local men were watching bullfighting on television and smoking cigars in quiet contravention of the smoking ban. Outside, expatriate Britons were discussing the vagaries of living in Spain while downing glasses of tinto de verano, the popular summer drink of red wine and lemonade. Mark Jones, who runs his own gardening and pool maintenance company, had spent two days queuing at the local municipal office to renew his residence permit. "I got there at 9am on the first day and my number was 26; by lunchtime they were only up to number 6 and they close at 2pm," he complained. "You have to renew every bit of paper here every few years but I can't afford two days off to queue in an office. There are no staff now because of the cuts, so it all takes longer. It's like everywhere – as soon as the recession hits, it's the immigrants who cop it worst."  Conversation turned to a local couple, who are desperate to leave Spain but who can't because their house is still unsold after four years on the market - despite dropping the asking price from €1 million to €750,000. In 1992 the BBC spent millions of pounds launching an ill-fated soap opera, Eldorado, following the fortunes of British expats on the Costa del Sol. The project flopped and was cancelled a year later. Now, 20 years later, the real-life diaspora is experiencing an equally disastrous end to its Iberian dream. Times are desperate in Spain. More than a million people took the streets earlier this month to protest at budget cuts, 24 per cent unemployment and the rising cost of living. The price of milk and bread has risen by 48 per cent during the last year, according to a recent study, and of potatoes by 116 per cent. Electricity bills are up 11 per cent while property prices are in free fall; they have declined for 15 consecutive quarters and are 41 per cent lower than in 2006. Several of its banks are faltering: this weekend Spain's government is preparing to pump a further €19 billion into Bankia, the country's fourth-largest lender, in the biggest single bank bailout in the country's history. Trading in the bank's shares was suspended on Friday until negotiations over the rescue were complete. Santander, Europe's largest bank, was among 11 Spanish financial institutions to be downgraded by the credit rating agency Standard and Poor earlier this month; and there's no sign of anything like economic recovery on the horizon. Expats are finding life hard in a country where they once basked in a cheaper way of life. Around one million Britons spend part or all of the year in Spain, but thousands are now returning home – and more want to, but say they can't afford to because their property is no longer worth what they paid for it. For the first time since 1998, Spain recorded a drop in foreign residents last year, according to newly released figures. With its narrow cobbled streets, whitewashed houses and children riding horses down the main road, Frigiliana lives up to most tourists' idea of an authentic Spanish village. But appearances can be deceptive. Out of its 3,000-strong population, 1,280 are foreign nationals including 700 Britons, making the village one of the most expat-dominated in Spain. The school advertises itself as bilingual. The British population is so large that the local council pays Kevin Wright, a former travel rep from Leicestershire who has lived in Spain for more than 20 years, to run a "foreigners' department". He helps expats deal with everything from local business permits to burst pipes and land disputes with neighbours, and has noticed changes since the eurozone crisis began. "Before, I was getting 10 newbies a week moving here from the UK; now I get one," he said. "Some Brits have lived here for 20 years but now families move out here then six, eight months later pack up and go back because they can't find work, or didn't realise what the cost of living would be." Mr Wright says many Britons fail to learn Spanish or to assimilate, so that the community becomes dependent on itself – to its cost. "People think they can set themselves up doing business to other Brits, like finance or house sales and rentals, or pool maintenance, gardening and cleaning. "But the property market isn't there any more and people have cut back and do their own maintenance, so there's less work." In desperate economic times, the expat community is increasingly vulnerable to financial trickery. "The worst people for scamming you are other Brits," said Gary Smith, a builder, who emigrated two years ago. "You trust them more but they just take your money for an investment and you never see a penny." Elderly residents are particularly vulnerable. The exchange rate - still far less favourable than five years ago - has meant British pensions and other income in sterling do not stretch as far as they once did. Julia Hilling moved from the UK to Fuengirola, along the coast from Frigiliana, 20 years ago with her husband. They bought a spacious, three-bedroomed apartment with two balcony patios in an upmarket area, overlooking the town's castle. Six years ago, Mrs Hilling, by then a widow aged 83, was persuaded by an independent financial adviser to take out a full mortgage on the apartment. She was told the equity raised would be invested, risk-free, to provide an income, while the mortgage would help offset Spain's 34 per cent inheritance tax when she died. Now 89, Mrs Hilling has never seen any return on her money, owes more than €300,000 to Rothschild Bank on the mortgage and relies on handouts from her children to stay in Spain. "It's devastating," she said. "The man was British, very charming, and said there was no risk. My children said 'Mummy, please don't do this', but I needed the extra income. Now I'm fighting for my life and my home." She is one of more than 100 mainly elderly British expats who have banded together in a Spanish court action to have their mortgages voided, arguing they were mis-sold. Rothschild and several Scandinavian banks also named in the legal action claim the financial advisers are to blame; and the advisers, who are not regulated in Spain as they are in Britain, insist the risk was mentioned in the small print. In a country fighting for its own survival, Spanish politicians are not unduly concerned with the plight of British residents, particularly when many are retired so do not actively contribute to the national economy. Spain's government is currently involved in a dispute with Britain over extent of free health care for Britons under EU law and there are moves to force them to pay 10 per cent of their prescription costs. But for some, returning home remains unthinkable. Former fitness instructor and gym owner Jo Morrison, 49, moved to Spain from London with her partner Lloyd 11 years ago. In 2008 she sold her house in Putney so she could open a gym in Nerja but the project failed after her business partner pulled out, and then the global financial crisis erupted. She now works as a cleaner while renting a one-bedroom home. "Sometimes we've gone without food and I still can't believe that I don't have my house or any savings any more," she said. "But Spain is my home now. I'd rather sleep on the beach than go back to the UK."


Gibraltar police have mobilised for the second consecutive day to prevent Spanish fishing boats from casting nets in waters near Gibraltar.

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Five fishing boats, accompanied by two Spanish Civil Guard vessels, set out from this southern Spanish city about 9.30pm on Thursday (0530 Friday AEST) and made their way toward the southern entrance of the port of Gibraltar. The same area was the scene on Wednesday night of an incident involving fishing boats, Civil Guard patrols and Gibraltarian police craft. Almost as soon as the fishing boats arrived at the port entrance on Thursday night, the Gibraltarian patrols moved in to prevent the Spanish from deploying their nets. The Gibraltar police displayed "the same aggressiveness as yesterday", a crew member from the fishing boat Union Vazquez Blanco told EFE. The Gibraltarian craft engaged in "dangerous manoeuvres", darting between the Spanish boats at high speed and apparently hitting one of them. "If they continue this way, we'll have no choice but to leave," the owner of one fishing boat said. "We haven't come here to provoke, we have come to see if they have changed their position." The current conflict began in March, when Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo abrogated a 1999 accord that allowed fishing boats from La Linea and Algeciras to operate in waters near the British Crown Colony. Picardo deemed the pact invalid because it clashed with a 1991 Gibraltar law banning all fishing with nets. Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said on Wednesday he will convey an offer of dialogue with Britain over the future of Gibraltar when he travels to London next week for talks with his British counterpart William Hague. He also stressed that Spain will defend its fishing rights in the Bay of Gibraltar, known to Spaniards as Bahia de Algeciras. The 1713 treaty that is the basis for Britain's claim to sovereignty over the Rock limits British maritime control to the port of Gibraltar, Garcia-Margallo said. He urged a return to the terms of the 1999 accord between Gibraltarian authorities and Spanish fishermen.


Lorca Paradores of Spain, the state-owned company that manages 93 historic hotels across the country, will unveil a new property next month at Lorca castle

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Lorca Paradores of Spain, the state-owned company that manages 93 historic hotels across the country, will unveil a new property next month at Lorca castle, in Murcia. The 83-room hotel adjoins the walls of the castle, built between the ninth and 15th centuries, and has spectacular views over the city below. Next year sees the launch of a Parador in Cadiz and work is in progress on a property in the Dalt Vila, the fortified old town of Ibiza.


Age Concern Sees Increase in Calls due to Spanish Healthcare Reforms

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Here at ACASA – The National Casework Service of Age Concern España - we have seen an increase of calls due to the healthcare reforms recently announced by the Spanish Government. British pensioners in Spain are worried about how these reforms will affect them. Information can be found in English on the British Embassy’s UKinSpain website at ukinspain.fco.gov.uk/en/help-for-british-nationals/living-in-spain/pensions-benefits/healthcare/healthcare-updates. No announcements have yet been made on how these reforms will be implemented nor when they will come into effect. We will keep you updated as soon as we know. ACASA has two client bases: people over the age of 50, and those of any age who serve or used to serve in the British Armed Forces, and their families. Contact INFOLINE on 902 00 38 38 or info@ageconcern-espana.org for further information or go to www.acespana. ACASA - Official Partner of The British Embassy in Spain, AGE UK, and SSAFA Forces Help.


British Consul to hold meeting with tourism partners to look for ways to support Brits in distress

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The British Consul, Paul Rodwell, will host a meeting with representatives of the various organisations that work with tourists along the Costa Blanca this Friday.UK in Spain logo The meeting will be held on Friday 25th May at 13.30 in the hotel Melia in Benidorm (Avinguda del Doctor Severo Ochoa, 1, 03500 Benidorm) and will be attended by representatives of a number of organisations such as Thomas Cook, TUI UK & Ireland, SAGA, and Jet 2 holidays amongst others. The Consul will give a presentation on how the Consulate can help British nationals when things go wrong, such as hospitalisation, accident or arrest, and will then hold an open discussion as to how best to work together to ensure that British tourists get the best possible support this season.


Two British woman taken to hospital after driving their golf buggy down a ten metre drop

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Two British women, aged 71 and 62, have been injured today after falling down a ten metre slope when they lost control of their golf buggy in the course at Alhaurín el Grande. They were rescued by firemen from Málaga who received the alert at 1150. They were extracted on stretchers by the firemen who took them first to a local urbanisation. They were then taken to hospital, the older one in a 061 helicopter and the other by ambulance.


Lord Sugar patience is running thin, and he told the paper in one of his rapid visits to the Costa del Sol, that those implicated must make firm decisions to allow the hotel to trade again.

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A lawsuit has been blocking investment and the plans to reopen the Byblos Hotel in Mijas since 2009. Lord Sugar wants to get the hotel, famous for some of its past guests such as Lady Diana, and is demanding that Aifos stop blocking the mortgage so he can open the premises as soon as possible. It is nearly three years since Alan Sugar was awarded three lots of the Byblos Hotel and grounds at an auction in First Instance Court Number 2 in Fuengirola. There had been two previous auctions which were deserted. But the debts of the owner of the hotel, the real estate promoter AIfos, has obliged them to present an arrangement with creditors, which saw the closure of the hotel in May 2010. Diario Sur reports that Lord Sugar patience is running thin, and he told the paper in one of his rapid visits to the Costa del Sol, that those implicated must make firm decisions to allow the hotel to trade again.


Man seriously injured in celebations on his wedding day

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A 28 year old man who got married last Saturday in Llanera, Asturias, was tossed up in the air in a blanket in the reception dinner by some of the guests. The ‘manteo’ is a tradition at many marriage celebrations, but in this case the man fell to the floor and hit his head, making him unconscious. Emergency services were called and he is now in intensive care of the Asturias Central Hospital, in a serious condition with head injuries. The latest statement says he remains in a stable condition in intensive care while the doctors decide on whether surgery is indicated or not.


Stag party tourist dies in Spain

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DETECTIVES in Spain are investigating the violent death of a young Scot just hours after arriving for a holiday with a group of friends. Craig Mallon was found dead during a stag weekend for his brother on the resort of Lloret de Mar, on the Costa Brava. The body of the 26-year-old, from Coatbridge was found in a street at 6.30am. According to Spanish newspaper reports, he and others were involved in a fight with another group of tourists outside an all-night bar. He arrived on Friday at the three-star Hotel Casino with his brother and several others for the weekend. Paramedics attempted to revive Mallon, but to no avail. Reports suggested he went into cardiac arrest as a result of his injuries. One friend, Gillian Lindsay, last night wrote on Twitter: “Craig Mallon… got out of Coatbridge and actually made something of himself! Never caused any trouble. You will never be forgotten.” Detectives from the criminal investigation division have taken over the case from local police. In July last year British teenager Andrew Milroy, 15, was stabbed to death in Lloret de Mar after an altercation with two Frenchmen. His parents had moved to the region from Surrey. Last summer the town underwent two nights of clashes between dozens of drunk tourists, an incident which ended with 20 being detained.


Queen Sofia was counting the days until she could escape to London and attend Friday's Jubilee banquet at Windsor Castle

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For half a century she has been by his side, a quiet, dignified presence through turbulent decades. But now Spain is beginning to ask just how much more Queen Sofia can take. Against a backdrop of family financial scandal and an increasingly troubled marriage, Queen Sofia was counting the days until she could escape to London and attend Friday's Jubilee banquet at Windsor Castle – an eagerly anticipated family gathering. But 48 hours before she was due to leave she was prevented by the government from attending. Declining the invite on her behalf, the Spanish government cited the recent "heightened tensions" with Britain over the ownership of the island of Gibraltar, currently the scene of a row over fishing rights. The government's decision focused attention once again on the troubled life of the woman whom some are calling the loneliest royal consort in Europe. "She was really looking forward to it," said Pilar Eyre, whose book The Loneliness of the Queen has been top of the best seller list in Spain since it was published in January. "It was a huge blow for her to be stopped from attending."Born into the Greek Royal family, Queen Sofia was eagerly anticipating seeing her brother King Constantine - godfather to Prince William - and her many cousins. Given that it was a meeting of equals, protocol was forgotten – Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands even threw her arms around the British Queen in a warm greeting. Yesterday (SAT) Spanish newspaper El Mundo featured a huge picture of the 27 royals, with the headline: "The only absence was Cousin Sofia". The newspaper also pointed out that protocol would have probably seen Queen Sofia seated next to Queen Elizabeth, owing to their close family ties. "It was to be a real treat for her to see her family, get dressed up and also relax with friends who live similar lifestyles," said Ms Eyre. "But now she has to return to her role of supporting the King in silence, and just keep her head down. She is suffering a huge amount." The Queen's resigned acceptance of her duty - her inability to carve her own path – is a poignant reminder of how isolated and powerless she really is. Where as her husband King Juan Carlos is known for speaking his mind, the Queen has no voice. Unlike her British equivalent Prince Philip, Queen Sofia is frequently sidelined and simply told what to do. And her sadness at being told to shun the family gathering must have been all the more painful, given her recent marital problems. Monday was the King and Queen's 50th wedding anniversary. Needless to say, they did not celebrate the occasion. "It would have been a bit ironic," said Jaime Peñafiel, one of Spain's most influential royal commentators. "There's nothing to celebrate." King Juan Carlos tripped on a hunting trip to Botswana last month, breaking his hip and triggering a furious reaction back in Spain. What was the King doing waltzing around the world shooting elephants, the people asked, while they were in the midst of an economic crisis? That the King was accompanied on the trip by a glamorous blonde German princess raised even more eyebrows at home. Did the Queen know he was on a "private holiday" with a woman almost 30 years his junior? The Queen has kept her dignity throughout the scandal. On Thursday evening at their home, the Zarzuela Palace, she presented awards for contribution to the arts to opera singer Placido Domingo and film director Pablo Almodovar, among others looking strained, perhaps, but composed. The King was also present; it was the first time the couple had been seen together in public since Easter. Yet the publication the next day of an in-dept portrait of the German princess who accompanied her husband to Botswana must have infuriated the 73-year-old. Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, 46, features on the cover of this month's Spanish edition of Vanity Fair magazine, described as "the mysterious friend of the King". Yesterday newspaper sellers in Madrid said the magazine was flying off the shelves. Miss zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, a twice-divorced German businesswoman who reportedly acted as an adviser to the King, was said to be "shocked" at the attention, and to have fled to Monaco. "Who wouldn't be if suddenly the world's press appeared at your door, attacking you and accusing you of being the King's lover?" said her first husband, Philip Adkins, an American shipping magnate, in the magazine. "The only thing she told me was that the King was her friend, and an amazing man who she admired. Nothing else, because if there is one thing that characterises her it is discretion and loyalty." She has vehemently denied being romantically involved with the King, and has instructed her lawyers to pursue anyone who claims otherwise. But that she and the King had a meeting of minds is not in doubt. Miss zu Sayn-Wittgenstein worked for the prestigious London-based hunting company Boss & Co, and organised adventures in Mozambique, a shooting party at Blenheim Palace, and visits to Saudi Arabia for the King. Cap Lesesne, a high-society plastic surgeon based on Park Avenue in New York, said: "She's a wonderful woman: intelligent, attractive, fun. She's the perfect date." But the King has now been forced to distance himself from the German princess. "The King knew that he couldn't be seen as frivolous in these tough economic times," said Pilar Eyre, columnist for El Mundo and author of eight books on the Spanish royal family. "All his life has been about sacrifice and the preservation of the reputation of the monarchy. Everything else comes second." And the King's dedication to the throne is unquestionable. He acceded to the throne in 1975 two days after the death of General Franco and oversaw the transition from dictatorship to democracy. The Spanish people appreciate his no-nonsense manner, and remember how the he thwarted an attempted military coup in 1981, when he made a televised broadcast calling on people to respect democracy. Spain's royal couple are, however, now coming under unprecedented scrutiny, along with their three children the heir to the throne, Felipe, 44; Infanta Elena, 48; and Infanta Cristina, 46. Infanta Cristina's husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, has been declared a suspect in a fraud case involving millions of euros of public money and appeared in court in February; the first royal family member ever to do so. The case has driven a stake right through the heart of the family, with the King furious about the scandal – Mr Urdangarin denies all charges - and the Queen only interested in comforting her daughter, Mr Urdangarin's wife. In a further public relations mishap, in early April the King's grandson, 13-year-old Felipe Juan Froilan, was himself taken to hospital after shooting himself in the foot during target practice outside the family home, despite being too young legally to use such a weapon. The Queen, who studied childcare in Athens and has stated that her priority is looking after her children, has been horrified by the mess which has engulfed her family. But unlike the King, she is powerless to act. The King realised that the luxury Botswana hunting trip at a time of soaring unemployment and economic unrest was causing yet more controversy, and made an unprecedented apology. "I'm very sorry, I made a mistake. It won't happen again," he said, as he left San Jose hospital in Madrid at the end of April. It was the first time he had ever apologised for his actions. Royal expert Jaime Peñafiel said: "He took the decision to apologise no one asked him to. He runs his own show." The King's strong personal management of the situation only serves to heighten the contrast with his wife. Ms Eyre spent two years researching her biography of the Queen, and says the quietly elegant grandmother has few real friends in Spain. Inside the Zarzuela Palace, there is open rivalry between the King's "team" and the Queen's ladies in waiting. As a vegetarian who dislikes bullfighting and rarely speaks in public owing to her heavily-accented Spanish, she could not be more different from her red blooded, straight talking husband, with his passion for fast cars, sailing and skiing. "It was a marriage of convenience," she said. "They have been living separate lives for a long time. "But it is fair to say that, in a long and unhappy history, this is a particularly painful moment."


European judges association ask for a pardon for Baltasar Garzón

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The Minister for Justice, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, has generally had good things to say about the ex judge, Baltasar Garzón, and has never criticised Garzón’s actions, even when he was investigating the Gürtel case, and now he had to decide whether or not to grant Garzón a pardon. Garzón has been served an eleven year ban from his office because of the Gürtel case when he ordered recordings be made between the prisoners and their lawyers in jail. It has effectively ended his judicial career. But Spain’s most famous judge has many supporters and progressive judges in Europe have asked that he be pardoned. The Association of European Magistrates for Democracy and Freedoms which a membership of about 15,000 judges and prosecutors, is today presenting a petition for clemency and for the ex-magistrate to be given back his condition as judge. The petition says they consider the 11 year ban imposed by Spain’s Supreme Court to be ‘severely disproportionate, indiscriminate and extraordinary’. They say that Garzón ordered the recordings of the Gürtel suspects and their lawyers to be carried out in the jail, not because of any ‘ethical perversion’, but because he was trying to stop the criminal activity in the group. The European association’s initiative was approved with no votes against, by all the groups which make it, including the Spanish ‘Progressive Fiscals Union’, while ‘Judges for Democracy’ abstained. The Government has commented that it has no records of the appeal being placed.


Spain’s banking crisis reached Britain’s high streets last night when the credit rating of Santander UK was cut.

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In a sweeping reassessment, ratings agency Moody’s announced in Madrid that it is downgrading 16 Spanish banks because it could not be sure of the ability of the country’s government to provide the necessary support.

Santander UK was among the banks highlighted after the ratings agency took aim at its parent Banco Santander, based in Spain. 

The Spanish banking crisis has hit the British high street, with the news that Santander has had its credit rating cut

The Spanish banking crisis has hit the British high street, with the news that Santander has had its credit rating cut

Santander is one of the biggest players in UK retail banking, having taken over the former Abbey National, Alliance & Leicester, Bradford & Bingley and most recently the English branches of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The new lower A2 credit rating is certain to be a cause of anxiety to Santander UK’s millions of British customers. 

Nevertheless, they can be confident that their deposits up to £85,000 are guaranteed by the British government should there be a loss of confidence.


A year on from decapitation of British woman in Tenerife

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The attacker is in the psychiatric prison in Sevilla and the case against him is expected to come to court in a year's time.The body of the woman being removed It was a year ago, on May 13 2010, when one of the most dramatic cases was seen on Tenerife, when 60 year old woman, Jennifer Mills-Westley, originally from Norwich was decapitated in a Chinese supermarket in a commercial centre in Los Cristianos, Tenerife. She had retired to start a new life in the sun just a few years before. The attacker, known to be a local vagrant, chose his victim by chance. 28 year old Deyan Valentinov Deyanov was caught by the public outside the shop, carrying his victim’s head. He was found out later to be Bulgarian and had been under psychiatric treatment following previous violent episodes. He had been allowed home after treatment the previous February, and was often heard shouting in the street that he was ‘God on earth’. After the attack he has been receiving treatment in the Canaries University Hospital and was then taken to the psychiatric prison in Sevilla where he remains today, waiting for the case against him to come to court. A jury will hear that case in the Provincial Court in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, once the Ministry Prosecutor form their accusation, and the man’s lawyer is confident proceedings will get underway in about a year.


British walker dies on the Canaries

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73 year old British tourist has died, on Sunday afternoon, when out walking in the municipality of Moya in Gran Canaria. He fell down the Azuaje cliff, according to 112 emergency services. The body was recovered by a Civil Protection helicopter from the Canaries Government which took it to the Moya football ground where the death was certified. Local police from Moya and the Gran Canaria Emergencies Council and Civil Protection also took part in the operation. It follows the death of another Briton, aged 78, from heatstroke, while out walking the day before in Morgán on Saturday. The person, who has not been named, had a heart attack.


complaint was filed May 8, against Carlos Divar, President of the Supreme Court of Spain, on the grounds of having paid out of public funds, luxury travel.

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The daily El Mundo and El Pais, in their editions of Wednesday, May 9, 2012, reveal that a complaint was filed May 8, against Carlos Divar, President of the Supreme Court of Spain, on the grounds of having paid out of public funds, luxury travel.



The representative of the Higher Judicial Council, Jose Manuel Gomez Benitez, filed a complaint with the Attorney General's office against the President of the Supreme Court, Carlos Divar, for alleged embezzlement.


The newspapers El Mundo and El Pais unveiled, in their editions Wednesday that the complaint was filed on May 8 The President of the Supreme Court of Spain, Carlos Divar, very close to a conservative Partido Socialista Obrero Español, is believed to have settled out of public funds, the costs of its luxury travel, the weekend, for a worth around 16,000 euros.


Indeed, according to Gomez Benitez, a professor of criminal law, the travel, trips, destination Marbella and Malaga, southern Spain, from Friday evening to Monday morning, have no connection with the activities assigned to the position Chief Justice conferred, Carlos Divas, the title of President of the Supreme Court.


Aside from these trips, between September 2010 and November 2011, in the words of the complaint, Corlos Divar was accompanied by bodyguards whose expenses totaled more than 20,000 euros.


The representative of the Higher Judicial Council, Jose Manuel Gomez Benitez said, moreover, that in the body of his complaint to the Attorney General, Eduardo Torres Dulce, there is specified that President Carlos Divar '  lives in Madrid and that it has no domicile in Marbella or Malaga "and"  it does not appear in the official records of activity that could motivate them, that the activities for which the President of the Supreme Court is suspected of embezzlement suspected, all took place on weekends and holidays,  "


It has also specify that the complaint filed in the office of the Attorney General "  only covers six travel destination Malaga which would have generated at least 36,000 euros for wrongful payments  ", and do not report, further investigation is needed to support a second complaint of many trips, always performed on weekends or holidays, destination Marbella, between September 2008 and September 2010, and after November 2011.


It is finally noted that the Supreme Court refuses to provide documents, relating to the case of alleged misappropriation of funds, to the Attorney General of State because, if the allegations are true, they constitute a crime that goes into the jurisdiction of the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court qualified to investigate a complaint lodged against the President and the Chief of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Judicial Council against .


Greece will leave the euro — now look to Spain

22:11 El NACHO 0 Comments

The Greek poll on Sunday has been overshadowed by the French Socialists’ triumph but has the same message, and is crucial to the future — or lack of it — of the euro. Ruling politicians of whatever country are finding it harder and harder to retain office while promoting anti-austerity measures. In Greece the crisis has been longer and the reaction more extreme. Centre-Left party Pasok and Centre-Right New Democracy, which for the past 30 years have presided over corruption and the debt bubble, polled abysmally, with New Democracy, the largest party, receiving just 19 per cent of ballots. Utopian Marxist-Green grouping Syriza has stormed ahead with almost a fifth of the vote, destroying two generations of Pasok supremacy in the countryside, as Greece’s numerous small farmers struggle  under the burden of EU-imposed taxes and soaring fertiliser and diesel prices. The Marxist-Leninists of the KKE have edged forward to 26 seats. Ominously, neo-Nazis in the Golden Dawn party have entered Parliament, with 21 seats. Their political roots lie in the seven-year military  dictatorship of a group of colonels which ended in 1974. The international financiers who control the Greek economy will hope to see a quick (and stable) coalition formed, but it will be difficult for many MPs to even sit in the same room. The New Democrats, led by Peloponnese nationalist Antonio Samaras, had first sip from the poisoned chalice of governing Greece, but have failed to achieve anything.  Virtually all other possible partners  ruled out coalition with Samaras. He tempted Syriza but they regarded this as a sell-out. Syriza now has its own chance to form a coalition, but without KKE participation the numbers do not add up. In any case, Syriza can bide its time, hoping to  become the largest party in a future poll. There are 30 or more other votes up for grabs but all of them belong to people who are strong opponents of current EU policies. As WB Yeats wrote, “the centre cannot hold...” or at least it will be difficult. The likely script of the next few weeks is a motley coalition cobbled together but then voted down on rejection of IMF and EU policies. New elections will follow. There is even a projected date, June 17. International observers will dislike this but the alternative is politics moving back onto the streets where violent extremism would flourish. Will there be spillover to the rest of similarly debt-challenged southern Europe? Not immediately, perhaps. Greece has exceptionally ideological politics and major issues dating back to the Second World War. Italy and Portugal have more scope to adjust. But Spain is the Titanic heading for the iceberg. Thousands of British expats currently trying to sell their apartments at fire-sale prices and return home speaks volumes about prospects there. And the view from Downing Street? It may not be long before a decision has to be taken on whether Britain should support a Greek exit from the euro or contribute money we can’t afford into a vast new bailout fund for Spain. Unpleasant dilemmas are approaching for us, too.


Expats in Spain 'owed £400 million in overpaid inheritance tax'

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It is estimated that around 60,000 British families have been hit with Inheritance tax (IHT) bills for properties or assets they inherited in Spain. Charges are believed to be in the region of £400 million (€490 million). The Spanish government levied IHT of up to 35 per cent on non-residents, while Spanish residents paid close to zero per cent IHT. The European Commission believes this is an unfair tax treatment with regard to EU citizens. It brought a legal case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in March arguing that Spain was infringing EU treaty freedoms. A verdict is expected from the ECJ which could open the floodgate to thousands of Brits reclaiming their tax, and force Spain to amend its IHT tax laws. While 60,000 Brits are believed to have wrongly paid IHT, only 40,000 are still able to make a claim due to the Spanish legal time limits, which stop claimants attempting to make a claim after four years from the tax payment date. An action group, Spanish Legal Reclaims, has been set up to represent those caught out by the policy. It is led by the same lawyer who won a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) reclaim against the Spanish government. More than £280 million was returned to 90,000 British families after the European court case.


A travel firm has said the use of an image of Madeleine McCann on an independent website to promote its holidays in Portugal is "vile".

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VoucherDigg image of Madeleine McCannLowcostholidays.com said it had no advertising contract with VoucherDigg

A travel firm has said the use of an image of Madeleine McCann on an independent website to promote its holidays in Portugal is "vile".

The advert, on VoucherDigg.co.uk, used a photo of Madeleine released by her parents soon after she disappeared.

It was used to illustrate deals offered by lowcostholidays.com.

Clarence Mitchell, a McCann family spokesman, told Sky News that the misuse of the image was "utterly appalling and frankly unforgivable".

A spokesman for lowcostholidays.com said it had no advertising contract with VoucherDigg and had been trying to get the image removed. VoucherDigg has not commented.We apologise for any distress this may have caused”

Lawrence HuntCEO, lowcostholidays.com

Lowcostholidays described VoucherDigg as a company that "picked up deals and offers via an affiliate network" and said it had "previously featured holidays from lowcostholidays.com as well as many other well-known holiday companies".

But consent to feature its holidays had not been given, it added.


Brink's Mat the reason that Great Train Robber was shot dead in Marbella

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The Brink’s-Mat curse even touched on the Great Train Robbery gang of 1963. One of them, Charlie Wilson, found himself in trouble when £3 million of Brink’s-Mat investors’ money went missing in a drug deal. In April 1990, he paid the price when a young British hood knocked on the front door of his hacienda north of Marbella and shot Wilson and his pet husky dog before coolly riding off down the hill on a yellow bicycle.


Low fare airline bmibaby to close

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Low fare carrier bmibaby is set to close later this year, threatening the loss of hundreds of jobs and the ending of its flights. The carrier transferred to International Airlines Group, the owners of British Airways, last month, but consultations have now started with unions about its closure in September. The GMB union said it was "devastating" news, especially for the East Midlands, where hundreds of jobs are now threatened with the axe. With bmi Regional, bmibaby transferred to International Airlines Group ownership on completion of the purchase from Lufthansa. IAG has consistently said that bmibaby and bmi Regional are not part of its long-term plans. A statement said: "Progress has been made with a potential buyer for bmi Regional, but so far this has not been possible for bmibaby, despite attempts over many months by both Lufthansa and IAG. Bmibaby has therefore started consultation to look at future options including, subject to that consultation, a proposal to close in September this year." Peter Simpson, bmi interim managing director, said: "We recognise that these are unsettling times for bmibaby employees, who have worked tirelessly during a long period of uncertainty. Bmibaby has delivered high levels of operational performance and customer service, but has continued to struggle financially, losing more than £100 million in the last four years. In the consultation process, we will need to be realistic about our options. "To help stem losses as quickly as possible and as a preliminary measure, we will be making reductions to bmibaby's flying programme from June. We sincerely apologise to all customers affected and will be providing full refunds and doing all we can with other airlines to mitigate the impact of these changes." Jim McAuslan, general secretary of the pilots' union Balpa, said: "This is bad news for jobs. Bmibaby pilots are disappointed and frustrated that, even though there appears to be potential buyers, we are prevented from speaking with them to explore how we can contribute to developing a successful business plan. "The frustration has now turned to anger following the news that Flybe (which is part owned by BA) has moved onto many of these bmibaby routes without any opportunity for staff to look at options and alternatives. Balpa's priority is to protect jobs; and we will use whatever means we can to do so." The changes mean that all bmibaby flights to and from Belfast will cease from June 11, although this will not affect bmi mainline's services to London Heathrow. Bmibaby services from East Midlands to Amsterdam, Paris, Geneva, Nice, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newquay, and from Birmingham to Knock and Amsterdam, will end on the same date.


Two Spanish restaurants in the Top Three Best Restaurants in the World

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Two of the top three restaurants in the world are Spanish. The new list from ‘Restaurant’ magazine places the exotic Danish restaurant ‘Noma’ at the top of the list for the third consecutive year. He took the honour after Ferrran Adriá’s El Bulli restaurant closed down. Second place goes to ‘El Celler de Can Roca’ in Girona run by the Catalan chef, Joan Roc. He’s helped by his brothers Roca, Josep and Jordi. Third is the ‘Mugaritz’, from Andoni Luis Aduriz, in Rentería, Guipúzcoa. The two Spanish restaurants at 2 and 3 are in the same positions as last year. Elena Arzak, from the restaurant ‘Arzak’ in San Sebastian has taken over from the French woman, Anne-Sophie Pic, as the best female chef in the world. The restaurant is in eighth position. The top ten are as follows:- 1. Noma – Copenhagen – Denmark = 2. El Celler de Can Roca – Girona – Spain = 3. Mugaritz – San Sebastian – Spain = 4. D.O.M. – Sao Paulo – Brazil +3 5. Osteria Francescana – Modena – Italy -1 6. Per Se – New York – USA - +4 7. Alinea – Chicago – USA -1 8. Arzak – San Sebastian – Spain = 9. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – London – England NEW 10. Eleven Madison Park – New York – USA – +14


Sotheby's to auction seven Picasso paintings next month

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Seven works by Pablo Picasso are up for auction next month, at an Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale, which takes place at Sotheby’s of Bond Street on 5th February. One is a portrait of Picasso’s muse, the painter and photographer Dora Maar, famous for her love affair with the Málaga artist. One of his portraits of her, ‘Dora Maar with Cat,’ reached the second highest price of a work of art ever sold at auction in May 2006: 95.2 million dollars in May 2006. His bronze sculpture, ‘Head of a Woman,’ went for 29.1 million in November last year. His painting ‘Head of a Woman,’ up for auction next month, is a little more reasonable. It’s only expected to reach between 13 and 17 million dollars.


Juan Antonio Roca and his fortune

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It has been revealed that Juan Antonio Roca, multiplied his money by seven during the ten years he was in Marbella between 1992 and 2002. Roca was the Municipal Real Estate Assessor, and is accused of accepting backhanders from developers who wanted to build in the town. Many cases of payments for granting licences on non-buildable land are alleged. Roca arrived on the Costa del Sol with nearly 16 million € and ten years later his patrimony was 118 million €. The number comes from a report, compiled by the Arthursen company in Madrid, requested by the defence, and it shows 185 real estate or company operations, and the purchase of 285 works of art. The Miro in the bathroom, shown in pictures when the Guardia Civil searched his home will be remembered by many. Roca started to collect art shortly after his arrival in Marbella and ended up with 285 paintings worth 17 million € according to experts in 2002. Roca has always claimed that he had money when he arrived in Marbella, in a strategy which says he did not accept backhanders, but his money came thanks to a manager who had got it right in multiplying his investments.