Playing on Stereotypes: UK Newspaper Tangled in British Ex-Pats Bulgaria Feud
UK newspapers have recently covered a number of stories about unfortunate British tourists or ex-pats covered in bruises or suffering from shock after problems in Bulgaria. From being taken hostage by hotel security guards to wild Bulgarian thieves attacking Scots with an axe – the tabloids are having a heyday.
One such story however has sucked the Scottish ‘Dumfries and Galloway Standard’ newspaper into a British ex-pat feud that has involved alleged blackmail, the Bulgarian tax authorities, assault and many other claims and counter claims flying backwards and forwards across Central Bulgaria.
On September 17 the newspaper printed an article entitled ‘Scottish Man's Wife Stranded in Bulgaria’. It reported on how “Ian Cairns and wife Gail sold up and moved to Bulgaria three years ago - but a catalogue of disasters has left them penniless and fighting to save their marriage.”
Ian reportedly went back to Scotland to try and find a job after the couple ran into money troubles in Bulgaria, but he failed and ended up living in homeless accommodation. The article went onto say that he could not afford to fly his wife, who was suffering from health problems, back to the UK.
Ian was quoted as saying, "Social services also contacted the Bulgarian Embassy and they can't do anything either to get my wife home. It's a living nightmare. We've lost everything and I'm crying out for help."
Soon after the printing of the article the Dumfries and Galloway Standard allegedly received a large number of complaints to which the writer of the article responded; “All I can do is apologise and tell you that this is something that happens in the newspaper industry on a regular basis. I had to take his word for it and go with the story.”
Rachel Gawith, a British woman living in the Stara Zagora region, enlightened Novinite.com regarding why these complaints were made and her version of events regarding the couple. She allegedly first met Ian and Gail when she offered them to look after her house and pets in return for a wage, free accommodation and paid bills. Having been pleasantly surprised by the couple at first and after hearing Gail’s story about being attacked by another English woman in Mamarchevo in the bar that they previously owned, Gawith left for France for a long holiday.
While in France Gawith alleges that the couple became sitting tenants after taking vast amounts of money out of the account she had set up for them for their work. The couple’s lawyer, Milena Manginova, then sent a letter to Gawith demanding BGN 3000 in exchange for them moving out of her house and they also contacted the Bulgarian tax authorities regarding the lack of a work contract. Gawith in return contacted the local Mayor and police regarding the issue. When the Police turned up Gail allegedly asserted that Gawith’s property was actually hers. They eventually moved out after allegedly causing damage to Gawith’s property and stealing her pets.
Novinite.com contacted Ian regarding some of these allegations and found that he had arrived back in Bulgaria. He confirmed that he had reported Gawith to the National Revenue Agency regarding not being given a work contract but denied that they had become sitting tenants instead suggesting that Gawith had not paid them the agreed amount for their work and that this was the reason for the feud. Ian also suggested that Gawith had signed herself into a mental institution in the Stara Zagora region.
Gail claimed that Gawith even put up her villa for rent while they were staying there including all of the couple’s furniture and a tiled kitchen that Gail had done herself. She also accused Gawith of animal cruelty to the “street dog” that she was alleged to have stolen and that they had been very cordial with police when they visited - confirming that they did not want to live in Gawith’s villa anyway.
Ian is now planning to take Gail back to Scotland for medical treatment as she is ill and is also planning on finding a job in Bulgaria before February when he will go back too. They have been selling furniture to raise money for their trip.
The feud continues but maybe the main point to take from this story is that the UK press seems to be hell bent on painting Bulgaria as a place to stay clear of without investigating the stories they write - tabloid press techniques seem to have started to infiltrate the mainstream broadsheets and local newspapers. As for Gail, Ian and Rachel we can only hope that they manage to sort out their differences out of the public eye.
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The problem here is that Bulgarian news is largely fairly honest (even though its revelations don't seem to change its corrupt politicians too much) so Bulgarians assume that British papers would want to tell the truth. The British tabloid press, and the local press which is staffed by would be tabloid journalists, just print a good story. After all, this is about Bulgaria, and there isn't really any comeback. I am always amazed that anybody believes the stories in British newspapers. Whenever i have been involved in a news story, the papers have always got it wrong. Sometimes two opposing versions of events appear in the same issue. Unfortunately, some of the ex-pats in Bulgaria are people who have run away from the UK for less than honourable reasons. Once they would have gone to Blackpool to escape (typically) retribution from wronged fellow gangsters or just to escape massive debts, now they go to Bulgaria. I know many like this. Bulgarians should be careful about accepting people like this - Spain has lived to regret allowing itself to be a refuge for British gangsters and drug dealers, and so has Cyprus. Apart from some of your politicians and senior civil servants and judicial officials, I have found ordinary Bulgarians to be very honest. Now we know that UK politicians are also a corrupt and dishonest bunch, we should all unite against the dishonest gangsters that ruin Europe.
My first reaction to the original story was utter disbelief. I remember saying something to the effect that this guy doesn't seem like an honest man. I thought he was fabricating a hard luck story for monetary gain. Something was not computing about him. When the second story appeared, I was vindicated. The guy is a swindler and his sick wife is aiding and abetting a criminal.
What a complete load of BS! They stole large amounts of money, tried to blackmail me into paying them a further 3000 levs and I apparently did not pay them!!!
And I signed myself into a mental institution in Stara Zagora did I!! Little difficult to do given that I was in France at the time!!!
Err....put villa up for rent when they were in it....hardly! They had moved into my house and it had been agreed between us that I would try and rent out the other villa where they had been for a couple of months while I was away. They even took the photos and sent them to me so i could advertise it for rent. Yes Gail did tile the kitchen with tiles and grout I paid for because she did not like the tiles that were on. I also bought them paint to decorate with amongst other things so they could make the place nicer.
Animal cruelty!! I have rescued 8 dogs and 4 cats in my time in Bulgaria. The one they stole was one of the first dogs I rescued and I still have 2 of her puppies and rehomed the other two. She had a nice pen to live in, space to run around in and fed twice a day. Hardly cruelty! And the cat - was I being cruel to the cat as well allowing it to live in my home and feeding it.
For people that did not want to be in my house they made themselves very much at home! These two are completely mad. I feel very sorry for Scotland about to get them back! But am sure the people of Mamarchevo will be very glad to see the back of them!