Ashya King's parents freed in Spain after Britain drops arrest warrant

Family set to be reunited as David Cameron calls  for ‘outbreak of common sense’

crime correspondent

Ashya King, the gravely ill child whose family removed him from a British hospital and fled to Spain to seek alternative treatment for his brain tumour, was set to be reunited with his parents after they were released by the Spanish authorities following three nights in custody.

The decision came after the intervention of the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who said that pictures of five-year-old Ashya lying at his father’s side reminded him of his own severely disabled son, Ivan, who died in 2009 aged six.

After a remarkable five days, Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said that a top oncologist would be sent to Spain to advise Brett King, 51, and his wife Naghmeh, 45, on the best treatment for their son’s brain tumour.

The couple removed Ashya from a Southampton hospital last Thursday, without the consent of his doctors and took him to Spain with his six siblings, after disputing medical advice that he should not have advanced radiotherapy.

The pair were arrested on Saturday and held in custody, while other members of the family were barred from seeing Ashya in hospital. The family’s flight across Europe, and a series of heart-wrenching messages and videos posted on social media, attracted public support and promises of funds for treatment at a clinic in the Czech Republic, which offers a form of proton radiotherapy not available in Britain.

At a High Court hearing, brought by Portsmouth City Council which had applied to a judge to make Ashya a ward of court, a team from Southampton General Hospital said the best option for Ashya was for radiotherapy and chemotherapy in Britain. But they said they would not stand in the family’s way if they secured the funds for treatment in Prague. The hearing was adjourned until Monday.

In the initial hunt for the family, police declined to rule out prosecution of Ashya’s parents – but they and their children’s appeals secured widespread sympathy and led to accusations of judicial heavy-handedness.

The campaign to reunite the family was led by Mr Cameron, who said: “Watching the pictures of him [Ashya] brought back memories of my desperately ill young boy, Ivan, and I remember him endlessly sitting on my lap and having to feed him through a tube and having to deal with all of the difficulties of having a desperately ill child... I just hope there’ll be an outbreak of common sense and a rapid outbreak of common sense so that the family can be re-united with this young boy.”

The cancer specialist being sent to Spain was not named but is unconnected with Southampton General Hospital. “I think it has been a very unfortunate sequence of events and there have clearly been misunderstandings along the way,” said Mr Hunt. “Right now, what we want to focus on is getting the right treatment for Ashya.”

The saga has focused attention on the decision to issue a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) after warnings that time was running out for Ashya. The EAW was issued on the grounds that the parents’ “wilful neglect” could support a charge of child cruelty.

Prominent lawyers said the Crown Prosecution Service appeared to have overstepped its powers. An EAW requires a realistic prospect of conviction which would entail a jail term of more than 12 months.

A statement from the CPS said: “Today has shown that Mr and Mrs King did take certain steps to safeguard the health of Ashya... accordingly the necessary element of wilful neglect to support a charge of child cruelty could not be proved to the required standard.... We have acted as quickly as we could to take the necessary steps to release Mr and Mrs King from custody as soon as possible.”

Ashya King's father recently explained why he took his son to Spain in a video uploaded to YouTube Ashya King's father recently explained why he took his son to Spain in a video uploaded to YouTube

A spokesman for the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are pleased that Ashya’s parents will be released and will be able to see their son. When Ashya went missing last week we had no option but to call the police because we did not know where he was or what his parents’ intentions were.

“The police asked us to make statements about his clinical condition and need of medical care and we stand by the accuracy of the information we gave them. No hospital should be deterred from raising the alarm when they have doubts about the safety of a child.” Medical experts told the Court that the risk to Ashya’s life was not as great as initially thought.

Although the threat of prosecution was removed, the fate of Ashya remains unclear. Postings by members of the family on social media had previously indicated that the cancer was terminal, but senior hospital officials said earlier this week that the chances of surviving the condition were about 70-80 per cent after five years provided Ashya had the appropriate treatment.

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
fashion
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

English Teacher- Manchester

£19200 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Are you a ...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes