HE claims to offer the world, quite literally.
Stan Israel’s Perfect Homes magazine is apparently available for sale in ‘all of the world’s 196 countries’.
It is one of a range of large, heavy glossy magazines produced by the Simply Media Group, based in Estepona.
But since the Olive Press revealed Stanley Byron Israel, from Buckinghamshire, UK is being sued by one of Andalucia’s biggest printing firms over non-payment of €8,000 dating back to 2013, half a dozen more victims have come forward.
Meanwhile, Israel – sometimes known as ‘Stanley Haw’ and, occasionally ‘Stanley How’, more of which later – has launched his new project, a fortnightly newspaper called ‘Weekend World’.
Claiming to rival all other local newspapers ‘in every way’, it came out in dribs and drabs, with 104 pages of, well, a bit of everything, to be exact.
However, while printed on the very best bleached white paper, it has not been entirely well received, with big name advertisers including Helicopteros Sanitarios, Specsavers and Gibraltar’s Sunborn hotel perplexed to find their full-page adverts in the paper despite agreeing nothing.
An investigation is now underway, in particular at Specsavers and Helicopteros, to find out how the advert appeared in Israel’s paper
Meanwhile, Israel, 52, denies the €8,000 printing debt with company Tecnographic – and even a court case – but the evidence against him is mounting.
Indeed, Olive Press enquiries have learned of a long track record of court cases and companies closing down in turmoil, both in England and before that in Tenerife.
Despite his claims of being a very successful media mogul – turning over millions in profit – his previous companies have been convicted for serious offences including dumping waste illegally.
And he left a trail of at least 10 dissolved companies before moving to the Costa del Sol in 2010.
But most importantly, he must get the award for being one of the coast’s most serious serial non-payers of staff.
Take former Sales Manager at Simply Media, Lola Gomez, who previously worked for El Pais’ Prisa group, and is now taking Israel to court in Malaga over non-payment of her salary.
Gomez began working for Israel in September last year, but left after just two months due to ‘anxiety and stress’, in particular, over the way the company was structured.
In court documents, seen by the Olive Press, she alleges that she believes she was exaggerating printing figures to potential clients by perhaps ten times. A claim Israel strongly denies.
“I felt defrauded and that I had been cheating my clients,” said Gomez, who has only been paid for 15 days of work. The trial will now take place on October 20 in Malaga court 4.
Meanwhile, former accountant Rudy Gedeon has also slammed his former employer for not paying him.
He was initially owed €4,000 after being asked to leave in September 2013, having started in February, and has still not been paid €1,500 of that.
“He promised all his staff they would have sports cars and houses in the Bahamas before long, but the truth is that he wasn’t turning over enough money to even pay printers and staff,” Gedeon told the Olive Press.
“It was my job to negotiate with the printers so they would do the job without any money in advance, but in the end I saw that there wasn’t enough money there and confronted him over it, so he asked me to leave.”
Another former salesgirl, who had to hire the help of a lawyer in order to get Israel to pay her almost three years ago, added: “It was hard to sell adverts as most of the places I went people never saw the magazine.”
Sunsearch magazine’s first distributor also failed to get paid. David Norman, now an estate agent in Mijas, was left potless despite organising a team of four people to distribute the very first print run.
“When I put my invoice through for €1,500 plus IVA, as agreed, I got nothing. When my wife went down a month later she was left sitting in his office for four hours and then finally told ‘you’re not getting paid because you didn’t distribute the magazines’ because they were found in a bin.”
Meanwhile the press pack sent out by Simply Media Group to potential advertisers certainly contains some lofty claims.
It states Perfect Homes magazine is distributed in a string of London’s classiest hotels, including ‘Connaught Hotels’ and ‘Ritz Hotels’…even ‘Claridges Hotels’, spelt incorrectly.
It also claims to have the magazine in numerous VIP airport lounges around the world.
As we went to print, none of the hotels were able to confirm they had seen the magazines.
Furthermore, the press pack claims Simply Media group was founded ‘17 years ago’.
Yet Spanish company records reveal it was launched in March 2014, after Israel’s previous company, Sunsearch Media Group, racked up a debt of €81,348.
Although Israel claims he sold Sunsearch to Belgian businessmen David de Potter, he is still listed as the sole director, and when pressed, admitted he was still a shareholder.
Official Spanish company records understandably flag Sunsearch Media Group as a ‘high commercial risk’ and Simply Media Group the same.
It is perhaps somewhat incredible then, that this man has been able to launch a free newspaper, printing a claimed 25,000 issues a fortnight on expensive paper and with few adverts actually paid for.
Publisher of the Euro Weekly News, Steven Euesden, told the Olive Press: “It is clearly not a commercially viable product, something strange is going on.
“Competition is essential for any industry, but not when questionable tactics – such as the unauthorised use of old adverts – are in play,” he added.
“We would never run adverts on this basis, it is unprofessional.”
Fellow publisher of Essential Marbella magazine, Iain Blackwell, agrees, adding: “Most of the local magazines are degrading the market with completely exaggerated circulation claims that cannot be substantiated by their sales figures.
“This lack of respect and professionalism impacts negatively on the image and reputation of the local media in general.”
But then nothing is surprising about Israel, who appealed in an online forum and to many other expats on the coast for investment in his firm, despite his background.
Another Olive Press source described attending an interview with Israel at Simply Media’s office a year ago as a ‘very strange, unsettling experience’.
“It was very clear there was something weird going on,” added the source, who was eventually asked to invest €10,000 in the company as a way to come on board.
It turns out dog-lover Israel has a history of encouraging potential investors.
Indeed, he tried to persuade the owner of a Marbella property newspaper to invest €30,000 in Simply Media.
However, his undoing came when he claimed to the entrepreneur that a 30% stake of the company was owned by a well known real estate company boss in Elviria.
The newspaper boss, it turned out, knew the agent well, and rumbled the lie immediately.
A similar occurrence happened to Gary Heginbottom, the publisher of Marbella’s six-year old Hot Magazine, who went to visit Israel two years ago, ‘out of sheer curiosity’.
“He firstly told me that he was the best salesman in the world, a real god in the media industry and that I should roll my magazine into his company.”
And for what return? “He told me he wouldn’t dare to insult me with a salary but would simply give me a decent amount of shares in the company and we would all do well as his media empire grew.
“He told me lots of things… in particular that he was buying up the Olive Press newspaper (ED: A total lie).
“I had never heard so much rubbish in 13 years on the coast and walked out in disgust.”
But given the law of averages, it is perhaps not surprising that Israel has managed to make enough money to live in a luxurious villa with pool near Estepona and drives a Range Rover.
His ruse also seems to be a well worn one with the Olive Press discovering an equally confusing business history in Tenerife, as well as in England, where he lived up until 2010.
At least six of his UK companies were dissolved by the end of 2010, having only lost money during his period of tenure or never traded at all. No official records could be found for the others.
One of which, Pressprefer Limited, is under Israel’s alternative name, ‘Stanley Haw’, and was co-owned by his second wife, Paula Haw.
He claims it was his foster parents’ name from which he has since reverted, but he used it for his two children – both from his first marriage.
A third name, ‘Stanley How’ however, emerges as being the registered director for another of his companies, Poster Steps. Curiously, How was also born in the same year 1962 and based in Bedford.
When put to the businessman, he told us to ‘check our facts’ and, of course, the name ‘How’ could be a mere clerical error.
Either way, we have discovered that Israel was registered as the owner of Sunsearch Tours in Tenerife under the name ‘Haw’ from 2002 until the firm was shut down in 2008 due to unpaid taxes.
He also took over a radio station, rebranding it as Sunsearch fm, which no longer exists.
Certainly Mr Israel, nee Haw, nee How, has apparently achieved a lot in life, at least as his CV proclaims.
When searching for a job as a salesman at a rival newspaper five years ago, he claimed to have made millions from dozens of companies, including a hospitality group, media groups in the UK and Tenerife, his own golf clubs, a real estate agency and set up the National Association of Builders, in the UK.
He even claimed to have imported the very first games console into England, which later became known as the Sega Mega Drive, only for it to be ‘poached’ by Sir Richard Branson.
But that’s not the end of the controversy surrounding Mr Israel.
In 2006, Oceana and Television Media, based in Luton, and then headed by Israel, was fined £21,000 for illegally dumping commercial waste despite council warnings.
The company pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawful rubbish disposal and one count of failing to provide waste transfer notes.
Israel’s co-director at Oceana and long-term partner, Lisa Brown, 37, is now also assistant manager at Simply Media Group.
Another of his companies, Media Steps Limited was successfully sued for £16,193 in a County Court case.
It came after Israel purchased the firm for just £1 from its founders when it hit debts, but never managed to turn the business – which placed adverts on train station stairs – into a profit-maker.
The firm’s net worth was listed as being in debt to the tune of £319,946 when it was dissolved, while a different company of his, Media Steps (sports) limited also had a debt of £64,760.
Accountant Ian Russell was one of those from whom Israel purchased Media Steps.
“He was certainly an enigma,” said Russell. “He agreed to buy the company and all its debts for a pound, but then tried to argue the debts were ours when he took it over.”
Israel, it turns out, has also been accused of not paying freelance writers, including KJ Elsdon, now living in Wales, who is still owed €300.
“He claimed one article I wrote about the Shard building for Perfect Homes magazine was never published, but I managed to pick up a copy of the magazine and saw it clearly in there,” said Elsdon gave up pursuing Sunsearch Media for payment when she moved to Wales two years later.
When confronted with the claims, Israel first denied all knowledge of Ms Elsdon then insisted that she had, in fact, been paid, which Elsdon denies.
Israel – my explanation
IN a full rebuttal of our investigation, Israel said: “I dissolved my businesses in 2010 because in 2007 to 2008 all my UK businesses were sold as I wanted to concentrate on a European venture, with each of the companies continuing to run successfully under new ownership.
“Lola Gomez does have salary outstanding plus five days’ vacation. However when leaving she took the company mobile and will not be paid until she returns it. We hope to have this resolved by the court hearing.
“Regarding David Norman, we hired him to distribute 10,000 copies. He was not paid for his services because we received complaints that boxes had just been dumped in the road.
“Rudy Gedeon’s job was to manage the books which were completely messed up, which is why he was fired.
“Sunsearch Media Group may have a debt of €81k, I cannot confirm. What I can confirm is that this debt came around because a certain person bought into the company legally via notaries and solicitors, but unfortunately for the company the paperwork submitted was fake. I have the escritura but I do not feel I need to show you.
“I don’t know where the name ‘How’ comes from, but I can confirm I have had companies registered in two names Israel and Haw. I was a foster child from six weeks and therefore for many years I used the name I was given by my foster parents before reverting to my birth name.
“I believe that we have achieved many levels of success. I have been successful to me, but other people may not agree.”