Hollow Victory for the Priors

Much will be written this week about Leonard and Helen Prior, unwillingly become, through circumstance, the most famous Britons living in Spain. The couple whose house was demolished in a cowardly and stupid miscalculation back in Vera (Almería) in January 2008.

The Priors lived in a house which was not on a flood-plain. Their house was not in a place of singular beauty, nor on the beach, nor near the road or the railway tracks. It wasn’t on any plan for expropriation. The Priors were – and are – a simple British couple who had retired to Spain, after a professional life in England, to enjoy their twilight years with a glass of red as the sun sank each evening over the hills before them.
It’s not clear why their house was chosen and not one of the others that loosely surrounded them. Perhaps they were foreigners, who would simply disappear back to the extranjero.

But they didn’t. They moved into the garage, making a home in a small space, with hose-pipe water and a generator for electricity – as so many other retired foreigners have been forced to do in Andalucía. They appeared on British TV, repeatedly. They were in all the British newspapers, repeatedly. They were recorded on the BBC and in other European Media, repeatedly. Millions read about what the Spanish had done to an innocent couple in the final years of an uneventful life.

Now, once again, Leonard and Helen Prior are in the news. This time, even the Spanish news. A happy event: the judicial system here has blamed the local town hall. Not the perpetrators of the assault, but the local authority, who gave permission for the home to be built. They must pay around half of the money claimed by the couple, and failing an appeal (which will be made, sure enough), the Priors will be awarded enough to buy a smaller house somewhere – maybe in another more welcoming area! Unfortunately, the ‘costs’ – the gigantic legal fees (after over eight years) to be shared.