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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
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

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London