Neighbours at war over koi carp cost taxpayer £25k

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. This came to just over £37,000 of the total £62,000 costs. The remaining amount, which comes to just under £25,000 will come out of the council coffers.Judge George criticised both parties for not being able to settle their differences and costing taxpayers, what she called, an ‘inordinate amount of public money’. Neighbours who waged a three-year war against each other over a pond for koi carp decorated with plastic herons and a Saudi flag have cost the taxpayer almost £25,000 in legal costsCredit: Martin Pope/ Martin Pope The council tried to end the war by asking the couples to sign voluntary Acceptable Behaviour Contracts, but the Abdel-Khaleks refused, leading the council to take out a civil injunction against them.After several county court hearings, the case ended up at the High Court of Justice in Birmingham last week.The court stated that the Brewsters “harboured irrational thoughts about the significance of the display of the Saudi Arabian flag” – which they complained to the council about 11 times.In the ruling, Judge Jane George stated that the distress caused by the objects was down to the Brewsters’ own “irrational and in some respects frankly bizarre interpretation of what things meant.”In her report she called the reaction from the Brewsters “extraordinary” and added: “No alarm, distress or harassment can be caused to a reasonable person by seeing a country’s flag hanging from a tree in a neighbour’s garden”.The court ruled that an injunction should be enforced against the Abdel-Khaleks to stop them from hanging items in their garden “in plain sight of the Brewsters property”, but said that they should “not be prevented from hanging items over the pond” should they wish to do so.As a result of the case, Mr and Mrs Abdel-Khalek were ordered to pay 60 percent of the council’s legal costs. In their complaints, the Brewsters said the “items hanging from trees” were “offensive”, telling police and council workers the items were put up “deliberately to cause them alarm and distress”. They also said the items were designed to “intimidate them” and made reference in emails to the council and police that accused Mr and Mrs Abdel-Khalek of being “extremists” – despite the police telling them the Saudi flag was the “national flag of a sovereign country”. Neighbours who waged a three-year war against each other over a pond for koi carp have cost the taxpayer almost £25,000 in legal costs.Dr Mohamed Abdel-Khalek, a 67-year-old retired eye surgeon, and his wife Aila, a 42-year-old clinical engineer, installed a 20ft-long pond in their garden in 2015 prompting complaints from neighbours Philip and Jennifer Brewster.Mr Brewster, a 70-year-old solicitor who specialises in land development and commercial property, and his wife Jennifer, 69, complained that the noise from the pond’s pump was “loud and continuous” and claimed it caused “water leakages” into their property.The Brewsters also complained to the council about Mr Abdel-Khalek hanging plastic herons, a small plastic Santa and a Saudi flag in a tree above his pond.Mr Abdel-Khalek said the objects were put there to protect his koi carp from predatory birds. Neighbours who waged a three-year war against each other over a pond for koi carp decorated with plastic herons and a Saudi flag have cost the taxpayer almost £25,000 in legal costs

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