Priors told their Spanish home was ‘illegally’ knocked down

EXCLUSIVE By Jon Clarke and Matthew Pritchard in Almeria

AN order to demolish the home of an English couple in Spain last year has been overruled as illegal.

The decision by the Andalucian authorities to pull down Len and Helen Priors dream home near Vera was overruled by the Spanish High Court.

The Court ruled that the couple were denied the fundamental rights to defend their case and that the demolition was “a grave injustice”.

The ruling overturns the decision of Almeria’s Court Number 2, on July 6, 2006, which quickly led to the couple’s home Tranquilidad being demolished.

They have since been living in a garage next to the property, and are demanding damages of 600,000 euros from the town hall.

Priors' home demolished in Almeria, Spain

The court did not rule whether or not the licence for their three-bedroom home was illegally given or not. Merely whether the stages of demolition had been undertaken correctly.

“The fact that they were not involved in the legal process damaged their judicial rights,” said the judge at the High Court.

The couple described the move as “very encouraging”.

Len Prior said: “We are very pleased. I really feel this is a step forward and it shows we haven’t been forgotten.”

The Priors’ had bought the land in 2002 and – having secured all the necessary permits and permissions via the town hall – built their house in 2003.

All went well until May 2006 when they received notification from the regional government that the permissions had actually been awarded illegally and their 600,000-euro house could be demolished.

They immediately turned to local solicitor, Victor Muñoz and he engaged a litigation specialist in Madrid to fight the case. As far as the Priors were aware, the case was currently proceeding through the courts.

But on December 16, 2007, they received another letter from the Junta de Andalucía informing them that the case had been heard; and demolition would take place on January 9.

No further appeals would be admitted.

At no point had the Priors, or their lawyers, been informed of the final hearing that decided the fate of their home.

The bulldozers duly arrived and the house was pulled down, making international news and sending yet more shockwaves around a region teetering on the edge of financial freefall.

The Priors are now meeting with lawyers on Friday, April 17 to discuss the implications of the sentence.

They have asked for 535,000 euros in damages to the property and 80,000 euros for the stress it has caused them.

A demonstration earlier this year by hundreds of expatriates in Almeria demanded that the Spanish legal system dealt fairly with cases such as the Priors.

Illegal home protest in Almeria

Mr Prior said he thought the demonstration march organised in January to mark the first anniversary of his home’s demolition had had a major impact.

“The Junta official we met with to discuss our case told us three times we shouldn’t organise any more marches which shows he was worried by it.”

Last month an EU report by Danish Green Party MEP slammed the practices of Spanish authorities over human rights and the environment.

The report was passed in the European Commission by a vast majority of MEPs and Spain is now expecting a huge fine.


  1. I Understand that you Brits are mad and I would be just as mad at the united states if I invested with Madov. The food is something you don’t understand yet, it’s clearly not good,the food your eating is comercial. Your eating food made with olive oil, it’s not good for your heart. Your guarenteed in france to get a heart attack with butter. Good old transfats, yet in small portions french live normal lives, where spanish can eat like basques and be ok. Just like the stockmarket, you should have known what you where getting yourselves in. Spain didn’t know how to value you, believing their sun is good enough. Spanish people hate themselves, from one region to the next, why wouldn’t they hate you too. Do the Irish, english and scottish like each other. Do you like your pakistani friends? I learn alot from all your comments, they suck at construction, expensive and poor. They tried to do the capitalism and should be proud to be first at bumping up the prices of the homes. But just as americans or brits are now paying the horrible price.

    Spain is not a perfect country, because it has so many nationalities and many they are gypsies. Socialism is great for the poor bad for the rich. France might be ok for now, the prices will probably take you elsewhere. You have allways hated the french and they hate everyone too, just like the spanish. We europeans love to hate. Spanish people should love english people, if not for them, we would be slaves still to the catholic church. No one liberated us more than the english and the french and we return our favor by hating them. We owe our freedom to them & south america to those freemason spanish who liberated them. Along with the freemason english who helped liberate the american freemasons. Spain needs to be liberated again, with the economy the way it is, they can sell the belertic and canary islands, they never really liked them, along with the south of spain. Maybe England would like to buy it.

  2. I’m a Canadian who has lived and worked in the UK for 17 years, and is married to a man who has retired and lives part of the time in Spain in a Spanish resort. I am often in Spain but haven’t moved there yet because of the healthcare issue if you are not retired. But I know a lot about Spain (our mayor was nearly jailed!) and speak a fair amount of the language.

    Now I don’t like bilious argument, but can I just offer a perspective from another part of the globe? When in Britain I love rural footpaths, the dizzying cultural riches of London, street markets, ruined abbeys, the voluntary organisation sector where I do my bit, and so on.

    I do not like the often intense xenophobia and racism, including the recent election of the BNP – it astonished me that even in the boom times, so many were convinced that desperate refugees were REALLY the root of all evil. I also find wall-to-wall CCTV cameras, the looming ID card threat and the ceaseless British cringe to the United States are offensive. And I don’t like instant coffee packets in British five-star hotels!

    There is good and bad in all countries, and neither Canada, Britain, Spain nor France has any monopoly on anything. Wherever we live in the world, we will confront traditions and mindsets that are bewildering or offensive. The phrase “take a chill pill” is a good one.

    My husband finds his part of Spain fine, but because he is often there on his own, I think he can’t integrate too well because in that part of the country it is still all about families. He is fluent in Spanish, by the way. As an aside, how difficult is it to really socialise with Spaniards? Any suggestions?

  3. Fred, Ceuta and Melilla have been part of Spain since Roman times. Gibraltar was ceeded to the English (not the british) under a treaty which does not include the land where the airport is, nor any territorial waters. The fact that people born in Gibraltar don’t have the right of abode on mainland UK (look at your passport) makes their claimed britishness a bit odd. You also seem to have forgotten tha fact that Mary Tudor gave Philip II the Isle of White as a wedding present. As a result people from the Isle of White used to have right of abode in Spain. Still I don’t suppose any one cares any more

  4. Pedro,

    I’m sorry, but you just spouted a load of Spanish government propaganda, and even if it is off-topic, I’m going to respond.

    Ceuta and Melilla might have been governed via Hispania, but that does not give the modern Kingdom of Spain any more rights over them than it does over Morocco or any other parts of the former Roman province of Mauretania Tingitana.

    The facts are: Melilla became part of Castille in 1497. Ceuta did not formally become part of Spain until 1668 when the Portuguese ceded it.

    Actually, Gibraltar was not ceded to the English. It was ceded to the King of England, whose successor is very much alive and well.

    As for territorial waters the Treaty of Utrecht is silent, i.e. it did not grant territorial waters but NOR did it DENY them. Anyway, Gibraltar has rights to territorial waters under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which Spain signed and ratified. Talk about a slightly schizophrenic position on Spain’s part.

    You might be right about the airport land, but then you might also be wrong. It’s very debatable, but a theoretical debate. That area might well have been granted by the ToU depending on where the “fortifications” which belonged to Gibraltar were situated. Continuous possession and it formerly being netural ground are also very strong cases in the UK’s favour.

    Gibraltarian born people, as EU citizens, do have a right of abode in the UK (ask a Gibraltarian friend to show YOU their passport). What is so odd about having a British passport and not having a right of abode in the UK? There is more than one form of British nationality. I bet you would not question the Britishness of people born in Jeresey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, yet they don’t have an automatic right of abode in the UK.

    I’ll take your word about the IoW, although it would be interesting to see where you get that from…

  5. Justin If your spanish is up to it try reading the three LIBROS ROJOS published by the Spanish Government in 1967-68-69. (The spanish equivalent of a British White Paper) It contains the documents presented to the United Nations on the matter. They are still available in central libraries in Spain and probably in Gibraltar library as well.
    As to the Isle of White, It is in the settlement of marriage between Philip II and Mary Tudor, in the public record office in London, sorry but I don’t have the log number.
    As to Fred, Don’t you have anything better to do than make sarcastic remarks?

  6. Thanks for the suggestion Pedro. I’m familiar with the Red Books, written mostly by Fernando Castiella, Franco’s foreign minister. They are also available at all Spanish embassies.

    Sadly the Red Books are full of self-serving Francoist propaganda, including, amongst other nonsense, the “Gibraltar has no territorial waters” myth you quoted above.

    Let’s wait and see what happens with the current ECJ case: I’ve got my money on Gibraltar’s territorial waters being recognised by the EU. Spain will really have nowhere to go then…

  7. Pedro, where are all the stories of UK sheds being turned into houses. You have not supplied a single instance. Why do you keep posting silly statements that you cannot substantiate. Just admit when you are wrong; it gets embarassing otherwise.

    Justin’s right, Gibralter’s waters will almost certainly be recognised by the EU. Good decision :)

  8. re the assertion that the eu will recognise gibraltars’ territorial water rights, i wouldn’t hold my breath. since when has the eu ever found in britains’ favour?
    some silly middle-of-the-road solution will be agreed which will offend the 98% of gibraltarians who voted to stay british,and infuriate the whole of the spainsh mainland. having served in the royal navy and been stationed at gib, i found the locals to be absurdly proudly british,and afraid of spain. they live near the mainland and can see what corruption, a para-military police force, and lack of basic human rights have done for spain.
    can’t really say i blame them. i have lived in spain for over eight years now,am trying to sell up and move to ireland,and really can’t wait to do so. ole.

  9. So Spain will be expected to pay a huge fine… please explain to me who is the numbscull in the EU who takes these idiotic decisions! Spain will pay no fine, the people of the country will pay the fine… where is the justice in that? Why can the EU not put together some form of system that fines politicians and the people who run local authorities where these corrupt people are… the reason, because they are all on the make and this is the way they make us think they are doing their jobs… welcome to the European cesspit.

  10. Having been offline for the ultimate 3 months of our time in Spain – thanks Telefonica and until a few days ago here in France, I found the time to come back to this thread today and boy it makes interesting reading – a lot of it quite hilarious.

    Fred – I have to say that re. employment law in France, Koba is correct.However did this friend of his actually follow up and check the details on the CV. Better still did he look this creep in the eyes and ask him if the CV contained the truth – it takes a really clever and skilled lier to keep his/her eyes from hiding the truth.

    Justin R – you’ve actually exposed very well what I have said about the Spanish in general. They have a huge problem with accepting their past and who they really are. Pedro is trying to convince himself that he is at least in part a Latin. The absurdity of the expression – Latin America is just that.

    The only people from South America who can call themselves Latin Americans are – the Italian immigrants into Argentina. They and they alone are truly Latins.

    I repeat again to the Spanish who have contributed to this thread you are Goths/Visigoths/Vandals/Swabians/Morenos/Occitans/Euskadi/Arab and Jewish Semites. At least 17% are Jewish and about 30% Arabs much more so in Andalucia – if you cannot accept this fact you are in denial and Jorge (is he still around) it is you lot who need treatment but hell if it makes you Spanish feel better, the ‘English’ can’t accept they are Germanic peoples either.

    Pablo – so, Andalucia is the best place in the world, reminds me of the Spanish idiots that have never left Spain telling me that Spanish food is the best in the world.

    Most of your water is contaminated by poison and pesticides. By your Spanish actions over the centuries most of Andalucia is now turning into desert and still you idiots are building golf courses. Malaga/Granada and Seville – all the construction carried out is unplanned, unco-ordinated and just plain ugly. Instead of building on the soiless hillsides created by YOUR deforestation, you idiots build on what little fertile soil you have. Can you Spanish really not see how totally ugly all your cities now are – they simply are the ugliest in all Europe.You cram your crap built blocks of flats so close together when you have one of the largest countries in Europe

    You say that France is more expensive than Spain complete and utter bullshit. Have you ever lived in France and if so when, because I’m living there right now. Spanish property is twice the price of far, far better built French homes. People are’nt crammed together like rats. There is no illegaly built propereties and there are no back handers involved.

    The price of food is the same as behind the Sierras where I used to live, which means it’s probably 30% cheaper than on the Andalucian coastline which YOU spanish have destroyed forever. I have said it before and I’d say right in your face if you were in front of me – you are so weak that you can’t stop speaking Spanish with a lisp as if Phillip 11 was still alive – hey wake up the creep has been dead for 5 centuries.

    Koba – where to begin – you are a mouth merchant and mind game player – remember mind games are for those who can’t face reality. We don’t know what you do for a living, nor how old you are. You give the impression you come from Scotland but are you Scots – we don’t know. Your mother was/ is a social worker – I have no time for these parasites, they acheive nothing and stand aside whilst children are tortured to death. They feed on junkies just like lawyer scum – no junkies – no lucrative employment. The last thing these parasites want is an end to junkies because the gravy train is over.

    Drug abusers don’t need help, they are beyond help and a total waste of hard working tax payers money. Don’t know what I’m talking about yes I do. I grew up in the 60’s I saw the whole thing unwind. I was working in the Netherlands when the Grey Wolves (Turkish mafia) stopped importing hash there and switched over to smack. When the work ran out in 1980 all the junkies went home with their addictions and it has spread like an evil cancer since then – the only good junkie is a dead junkie.

    You castigate the Swedes for what they did. Do you think it’s right that no hopers like the Matthews woman should keep on breeding just to get more money to spend on drugs. Who was it Koba that designed the souless sink estates that had no facilities. Who was it that used the police to smash the coal miners and destroy their way of life – that’s right the ugly sub human Thatcher and her corrupt cronies. Contrast that with the Germans who used to subsidise their coal production to the tune of 500% because unlike you stupid Tories they could see that that way more Deutch marks stayed in Germany – it’s called sensible economics. And when they wound the German coal mining industry down they spent serious money retraining their miners. Do the old German mining towns have serious social and family problems no of course they don’t because they did’nt trash the dignity of the German miners. Who got better value for tax payments the Germans or the UK well we all know the answer to that don’t we. Who wasted the North sea oil money keeping people on the dole – do you think the Germans would have been that stupid no of course not.

    So France should have the same employment laws as the UK which only favour the employer. like I said before – you want the American system get your arse on over there and don’t come back but one thing don’t get sick unless you have millions of $ to sheild you.

    You have have tried to tar me with a political brush when I have repeatedly expressed my contempt for ALL politics. You have not commented on the deaths of well over 45 million indigenous peoples of Central and South America – not a single word of regret – you just dismissed them and then went on to lie about deaths that could be atributed to Hitler and Stalin – 60 million is in fact pure bullshit is’nt it.

    20 million Soviets died defeating the Austrian and German sub humans.Hitler and Stalin did’nt murder anyone did they – it was all done by the ‘little people’ who got away scot free thanks to the Americans and British. Only the Soviets killed substantial numbers of the real killers these ‘little people’. The Nazis murdered around 6 million Jews/half a million Gypsies and approx. 200,000 Germans/Austrians. Maybe another 2-3 million civilians died as well on the mainland. Even accounting for the nasty little South Ossetian’s pograms they did’nt come to more than 15 million – now that’s a far cry from 60 million is’nt, so why did you lie?

    You hold up UK law as something wondeful when in fact its controlled by nasty sexually deviant white male (there are a few token Jews/Moslems etc to make it look a little better) public school boys, most of whom belong to the ultra right wing Monday club, I should also add that includes nearly all the chief constables as well. You dare’nt comment on the ultra right wing police forces nor the fact that no uniformed thug has ever been tried for blatant murder ever when they have committed so many. A justice (laugh everyone) system that makes it impossible for any working class person to action anything in the civil courts. Remember Maxwell’s son who claimed legal aid when he lived in a house valued at 6 million pounds and that was how many years ago. Look at the ostentacious no expense spared Courts that have only one purpose to frighten the proles into submission.

    Britain never has been a real democracy, there never has been fair and impartial courts and now the police are virtually out of control.

    This thread was about ordinary decent UK people who have been screwed by a degenerate and totally corrupt system here in Spain and what has any government and don’t start playing the prat and blaming the neo-cons/Labour party all this has been going on since before the sub humanThatcher came to power.

    So how are the Priors ever going to get justice. Nobody respects the weak – you can waste money on vermin called lawyers and get nowhere except poorer. I think you already know that the swilling beasts in Whitehall will never help at all. Consider this do you think that any house owned by say the Russian or Italian mafia would ever get knocked down, then you need to ask why not and there you have the beginning of an answer.

    I also have a few greivances from my days in Spain which I’m not prepared to state here but there is saying in Gaelic which roughly translates – never forget a friend, never forgive an enemy – I don’t.When Spain goes tits up ——-

  11. I too am disgusted by the patronising,hypocritical,ignorant, cuasi colonialist attitudes displayed in some of the comments above.They remind me that there’s a nasty xenophobic streak lurking just below the surface in some brits,even some that live here.This type,which could even be the majority,are deluded enough to consider themselves inherently superior to “johnny foreigner”and have no intention of integrating,in fact they often live(or drink themselves to death) in urbanizaciones resembling nothing so much as english ghettos.They have no interest in or understanding of the local culture and language,(which they often despise)In fact,they wish everything was more like england(weather and cheap booze excepted).Then you hear these same people ranting about how immigrants to the uk should be made to learn english,dress”normally”,mix in more,etc,or fxxx off home if they dont like it,all said without the slightest hint of irony.Only a country as tolerant as Spain would put up with these self-righteous whinging payasos.

  12. I too am disgusted by the demolition,but also by the patronising,hypocritical,ignorant, thuggish attitudes displayed in some of the comments above.They remind me that there’s a nasty xenophobic streak lurking just below the surface in some brits,even some that live here.This type,which could even be the majority,are deluded enough to consider themselves inherently superior to “johnny foreigner”and have no intention of integrating,in fact many live(or drink themselves to death) in urbanizaciones resembling nothing so much as english ghettos.They have no interest in or understanding of the local culture and language,(which they look down on)In fact,they wish everything was more like england(weather and cheap booze excepted).Then they come on here and attack anyone who talks sense.Only a country as tolerant as Spain would put up with these self-righteous whinging payasos.Jorge,muy bien dicho todo ,haces bien en no hacerles caso a semejante ganado.Que disfruten de su pizza and chips con cerveza caliente,que ellos se lo merecen,jejeje saludos,Tobias.

  13. Hey people, Happy April Fool’s Day!!!

    A man walked into a lawyer’s office and inquired about the lawyer’s rates.
    “$50.00 for three questions,” replied the lawyer.
    “Isn’t that awfully steep?” asked the man.
    “Yes,” the lawyer replied, “and what was your third question?”

    Happy April Fool’s Day!

  14. If this attitudes continue.There is going to be an anti british sentiment by many spanish ( if it is not happening already) with the drung fols that come over to spain and comments like those coming from Stuart and company. LISTEN don´t like spain or the spanish well go back where you come from. And stop insulting the spanish. Hurry up and buy that house in France where the french just love the Brits!!

  15. Aussie, you sound like a “drung fol”. If the house you lived in and paid taxes on for a decade was being demolished you’d be the first to complain, oh yes.

    The Spanish are equally affected of course, it’s not just expats. There always was an anti-British sentiment – the same is true of any immigrants in any country. The UK has a big influx of Spanish workers this year and the UK government are moaning about that now. The one BIG difference is that in the UK you won’t be able to purchase an illegal house in the first place! Get real.

  16. oopps Meant to have written. ” drunk fools”.

    Fred, of course I would be upset if my house was to be demolished and especially after I had done everything correctly..permits etc…. and yes the uk has an excellent track of law basically in everything ( you would not be tricked in the uk when buying a house).
    What I do not like is the way this arguement is getting out of hand critising spaniards and the spanish way.Critize the corrupt politians and the law BUT NOT THE SPANIARDS in general.In reference to spanish workers in the uk it would be useless complaining about any group of workers coming legally from the EU.

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