Tuesday, 18 June 2013

UK's 'Paella Prisoners': English & Spanish media stories differ

In a UK tabloid story, we can read about a British couple who were unfairly imprisoned and fined while on holiday, for refusing to pay a restaurant bill. In the Spanish media, we can read about what actually happened.

 
What the Daily Mail is saying is that Geoff Cox and Bridget Keys were "mistakenly charged" €15 ($20) for an extra portion of paella at a restaurant in Granada in southern Spain, which they visited on their recent cycling holiday.
 
They apparently told reporters that when they offered to pay €105 instead of €120, the waiter "went off like a firecracker."
 
The UK's Daily Mail newspaper ran a feature on the paella incident in which a British couple told of their arrest, imprisonment and fine as a result of an allegedly erroneous restaurant bill. Police were then called and the couple were apparently taken straight to jail, then stripped of their shoes and left without food and water for the night.
 
However, the Granada daily newspaper, Ideal, decided to contact the local police and were given a very different version of the events.
 
Ideal reported in their article titled "The paella of discord", that police spokesman, Mariano Valbuena told them, "Our services were required in a restaurant because two people didn't want to pay part of their bill."
 
"The owner said that he wanted to prosecute the couple so we needed to identify them." 
 
When asked for their identity papers, the British couple told the police that their documentation was in the hotel. Police ordered them to return to their room and collect their passports, in the company of an officer. This is apparently when the problems really started. 

Reportedly Cox was said by police to have "lashed out at one officer", while his partner, Ms Keys, kicked another in an incident that was described by the Daily Mail as "some shoving and pushing."
 
It was at this point (around 2 am) that the couple were arrested for attacking law enforcement officers and taken to the police station.
 
Cox and Keyes insist in the Daily Mail that they first found out about the assault charges when they were given access to a translator and a lawyer the morning after their arrest. 
 
Then the Granada newspaper contacted the restaurant owner himself, who eventually decided not to prosecute the couple, but explained the whole story.
 
"They asked for a paella but, as it says on the menu, it's for a minimum of two people, €15 per plate, so €30 in total."
 
"They had a lot to drink then they went to leave without paying."
 
The whole thing led to a court hearing on May 20, where the couple avoided custodial sentences, but were ordered to pay €78 in fines plus damages of €250.
 
In the UK version, they were fined despite the charges being dropped, but in the Spanish version, charges were dropped because the couple agreed to pay the fine.
 
While the restaurant owner mentioned that the couple had had a lot to drink, the Mail made no mention of their alcohol consumption.
 
The tabloid quoted Cox as saying, "I'm an ordinary, middle class, respectable citizen who has never had any trouble with the police". 
 
He apparently added: "It's a bloody outrage."

According to Cox, who is in his late 50s and from Newdigate in Surrey, the total cost of the incident, including travel and legal expenses, is in excess of €700 and the couple are now demanding compensation for this amount, for the inconvenience caused. 
 
"That messed up our holiday plans as we were off to Seville," said Cox. "We came back to Granada at a cost of €200 to have our day in court."

To the source: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/352380