Former chief exec starts forest fire

A former chief executive of Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association has been hit with a whopping bill of £9.1m after being convicted of starting a massive forest fire in Spain that took eight days to extinguish.

Michael Hanks, who retired in 2008 after 20 years service in the borough, was also handed an 18 month jail sentence.

Mr Hanks, 66, from Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, and his French girlfriend Michelle were out walking in Lanjaron, near to his holiday home in the Andalusian village of Acequias, when they become lost and started a fire to attract the attention of rescuers.

Mr Hanks gathered sticks and leaves and placed them in a circle of stones but did not take necessary and essential precautions to stop the fire spreading, the Criminal Court in Grenada ruled this week.

277 firefighters, 12 planes and 20 helicopters were required to control the blaze, which devastated almost 5000 acres of land, including a large part of the protected Sierra Nevada National Park Southern Spain.

According to Spanish media reports, the Spanish Civil Guard were forced to evacuate 35 people from the area affected by the fire and

Neighbours of Mr Hanks, originally from Colchester, Essex, have indicated that he kept himself to himself and did not integrate much with other local residents, despite having lived in Waltham Cross for 12 years.

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