2015: A game-changing year

The Olive Press round up of the highlights and low points of another year in southern Spain

LAST UPDATED: 7 Jan, 2016 @ 23:04


THE year got off to an explosive start as we broke news of Russian President Vladimir Putin installing a multi-million euro vineyard at his alleged Zagaleta palace. Unsurprisingly, the Kremlin rushed to pour cold water on the potentially damaging claims.

The infamous ‘wedding runner’ returned, this time on our screens. So-nicknamed for repeatedly leaving Costa del Sol couples high and dry on their big day, wedding planner Sue Danker resurfaced on a reality TV show.

Journalists – and many others – across the world united in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Thousands protested for free speech under the slogan ‘Je suis Charlie’.

podemos on the riseFebruary

WITH new party Podemos beginning to make itself heard, the Olive Press headed north to report on the March for Change in Madrid.

Google launched an internal probe after we discovered towns such as Algeciras were being renamed as ‘Taifas’ on Google Maps, their title during ancient Islamic rule.

The search engine made headlines again when it removed our legitimate story about a corrupt lawyer from search results due to a controversial Human Rights Court ruling. The solution? We published it again (and weren’t damned).

A British expat living in Sotogrande, Victor Kainth, killed an alleged German paedophile with one punch after spotting him filming his own children in a restaurant.

Finally, there was widespread pandemonium among female expats when reporters Tom Powell and Rob Horgan offered themselves up as dates in a Valentine’s competition. (Alas, not one person actually entered!)


THE search for missing expat Agnese Klavina made international headlines at the start of the month after a British businessman’s yacht was seized and Brits Westley Capper and Craig Porter were brought in for questioning.

The month’s close brought more tragic news as a British family of four were found dead in a Gibraltar flat, on the same day that retired expat couple Jean and Peter Tarsey were tied up and killed at their Alicante home.

In other news, the OP tracked down infamous British fraudster Paul Bloomfield in Puerto Banus, fellow tycoon Alan Sugar cashed in on his Marbella beach pad and the world’s deadliest walkway, the Caminito del Rey, reopened to the public, with the OP getting an exclusive preview.

March also saw the first of four elections, with Susana Diaz voted back in as Junta President after negotiating a pact with Ciudadanos.

It was also a landmark month for the OP, with the unveiling of our first ever Property magazine. The launch coincided with our K.O. the Kickbacks campaign to rid Marbella’s property sector of backhanders between lawyers and estate agents.

Algarrobico Hotel illegalApril

ENVIRONMENTALISTS were rejoicing at the start of the month as the Los Merinos golf project in Ronda was finally scrapped and the Junta announced plans to demolish the Algarrobico Hotel in Almeria.

Keeping it green, the Olive Press paid a visit to the Bay of Cadiz to lend our support to a preservation effort at bird-watching sanctuary La Covacha. Celebs were also busy cherishing the planet with Helena Bonham Carter stripping off to pose nude with a tuna to highlight illegal fishing.

Meanwhile, we lifted the lid on how Europe’s biggest-ever gangster, Ricardo Fanchini, operated from his Benahavis hideout before being banged up in the States.

We also caught up with brain tumour survivor Ashya King and family on the youngster’s embattled road to recovery and spoke exclusively to the brave British nurse who helped pull four deaf Turkish students out of the sea in Marbella, only for all but one to tragically die.

 Jonathan Lutwyche
Jonathan Lutwyche


THE runup to the summer holidays was marred by a phishing scam which left hundreds of holidaymakers out of pocket and with nowhere to stay, as exclusively investigated by the Olive Press.

Meanwhile a British mother contacted us when the UK courts ordered her to return to Spain to live in the same village as her abusive ex-partner in order to share custody of their child.

In other news, Britain’s Got Talent star Jonathan Lutwyche taught OP reporters how to dance, Pablo Picasso’s Women of Algiers sold for a world record €160 million and football fans were left pulling their hair out as La Liga was temporarily suspended over a TV rights tussle.

May also saw the return of the ballot box, with local elections taking place across the country.

NEW KID IN TOWN: Elliott Wright
NEW KID IN TOWN: Elliott Wright


AS usual, a flood of celebs arrived on the Costa del Sol for the start of the summer. As the Olive Press caught up with Premiership footballers in Gibraltar and partied with TOWIE stars in Puerto Banus, BBC presenter Nick Knowles moved to Sotogrande and celebrity restaurant owners Elliott Wright and Steven Saunders began writing columns for the OP.

It wasn’t all good news for the rich and famous however, as the Olive Press exclusively revealed. Status Quo star Rick Parfitt and his wife Lyndsay were duped out of thousands of euros in a pots-and-pans scam in Marbella.

We also tracked down controversial Scottish boxer Scott Harrison’s trashed villa in the Guadalhorce Valley and exposed Estepona Town Hall for not clearing up an E-Coli-ridden river.

Finally, in what must be the most bizarre tale of the year, we exclusively revealed how a British holidaymaker reported one of Gibraltar’s Barbary macaques for sexual assault, only to be asked if she could pick one out of a lineup!

SECLUDED: Large gates hide the house belonging to the Staffords
SECLUDED: Large gates hide the house belonging to the Staffords


A FOUR-page probe special kicked off July. Tracking down British holiday scammers Mark and Michelle Stafford’s Guadalhorce bolthole after they left dozens of Marbella holidaymakers out of thousands of euros, we also unveiled the crooks behind the Status Quo con as well as exclusively revealing Baron Rothschild’s indictment in France for fraud. Rounding up our super-exposé, we investigated media boss Stan Israel as he was taken to court by a former sales manager.

July also saw controversial Kim’s Animal Rescue Centre put up for sale, while the Gibraltar government launched legal proceedings against Spanish daily ABC for slanderous comments.

Meanwhile British mother Stacie Cottle hit international headlines as the Olive Press campaigned to reunite her with her baby in Torre del Mar.

Elsewhere, the OP exclusively interviewed incoming Marbella Mayor Pepe Bernal, headed up to Benicassim for Spain’s biggest music festival and launched our first ever Gay Pride supplement to mark a decade of same-sex marriage in Spain.

Cilla with restaurant owner and friend Robbie Anderson
Cilla with restaurant owner and friend Robbie Anderson


A SAD start to the month saw the world mourn the loss of TV presenter Cilla Black who suffered a stroke at her Estepona home. As exclusively revealed by the Olive Press, Cilla had planned to dine at her favourite Estepona restaurant that evening. Instead, the world’s favourite Liverpudlian lass was tragically found dead hours before by her son Mark.

In other news, the Vuelta a Espana got off to an embarrassing start with the Puerto Banus stage scrapped after failing to meet necessary standards. Working alongside TV presenter and journalist Donal MacIntyre, the OP also assisted in the making of a documentary on missing expat Amy Fitzpatrick.

Elsewhere, the Olive Press exclusively revealed Coin-based British artist Michael Shurman’s claims that he is the real Banksy, and exposed British storage facility Fastcat bosses for leaving dozens of clients without their belongings.

The hot summer also took its toll on the Costa del Sol, with wildfires ripping through the countryside, especially bad in the Bay of Gibraltar.

Russell WatsonSeptember

A TRANSLATION mix-up that led to devastated expat Teresa Tarry receiving an unnecessary double mastectomy dominated the news.

We also broke the story that celebrity classical singer Russell Watson was left waiting an hour for his late bride-to-be at their fairytale Benahavis wedding.

September also saw a landmark moment in Olive Press history, with the launch of a dedicated Gibraltar edition.

An exclusive story about a thief who stole a box of Quality Street finally being brought to justice 17 years later got the paper off to a rocking start.


A GANGLAND war threatened to erupt on the Costa del Sol after a member of the infamous Kinahan clan, Gary Hutch, was shot dead at his Mijas villa.

Timeworn comedian Freddie Starr revealed all to the Olive Press after moving to a newly-purchased flat in La Cala in an attempt to escape a million-pound legal bill in Britain.

Gibraltar schoolgirl Elisha Lang made it to the semifinals of Spanish TV singing contest La Voz Kids, and looks set to forge a fantastic career off the back of her time in the limelight.

Expats were warned over fake poppies in the run-up to Remembrance Day, following the inexplicable ‘disappearance’ of the British Legion’s entire Western Costa del Sol stock.

Finally, controversial Weekend World publisher Stan Israel was found guilty of not paying his former head of sales, while popular expat DJ Rona Bourke called time on her Estepona radio career after not receiving a paycheck for four years.

Missing: Lisa Brown, 32
Missing: Lisa Brown, 32


SCOTTISH expat Lisa Brown was reported missing on November 9, sparking a search which is still on-going. Her boyfriend Simon Corner, a name-changing convicted criminal with a shady past, is believed to be crucial in the hunt for answers but has fled to Thailand.

On November 20, Spain marked the 40th anniversary of dictator Franco’s death.

Six days later, Gibraltar headed to the polls and gave Fabian Picardo’s GSLP party landslide approval to govern for another four years.

However the Rock’s very own 15-year-old muscleman, Leon de Roeck, was hell-bent on stealing the headlines, breaking not one but six world records.

The second Battle of Trafalgar broke out over plans for the beloved lighthouse on the Costa de la Luz, with a German company winning the rights to convert it into a private hotel.

ONE WAY TICKET TO JAIL: Goldman AKA Del Monte waits for train to court this morning with suitcase packed for jail
ONE WAY TICKET TO JAIL: Goldman AKA Del Monte waits for train to court this morning with suitcase packed for jail


WITH the spirit of goodwill in the air, expats clubbed together to support the launch of new charity Andalucia Childline.

Spain’s general election lived up to the hype with voters torpedoing the two-party domination which had overseen such rottenness for decades.

Former PP Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy decided the best preparation was to pop down to Estepona to read the Olive Press!

Meanwhile, notorious conman Nigel Goldman was at last found guilty of a €12,000 gold coin scam in the UK. His Christmas got worse when he received an order to attend Fuengirola Court too over a separate series of frauds in Spain.

Last but not least, Captain Adam Stoaling had budget air travellers in fits of laughter with his pre-take-off, stand-up routine. Bravo!

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