The PR fiasco surrounding Ashya King and his parents was caused by a breakdown in relations

Bad communication has created a situation that benefits no-one

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The Independent Online

After five days, three nights in prison, and a hunt across Europe, the family of Ashya King might get what they want: treatment at a specialist Prague unit for their gravely ill child.

As a case study of the power of social media to harness public opinion it was telling; as a way to resolve the debate over how best to treat of a sick child, it was depressing.

A breakdown in communications between the family and medical staff at Southampton General Hospital will result in one of Britain’s top doctors flying to Spain on the orders of the Health Secretary to broker a deal to sort out where, and how best, to treat Ashya.

The dealings between medical staff and the family will come under closest scrutiny in the analysis of what went wrong and the more than six-hour delay to raise the alarm which meant that Ashya and his parents were already out of the country before police were alerted.

The authorities could have secured protection or care orders if they feared the health of the child was at risk while they remained in Britain, legal experts said last night, but after they left the country the authorities were left with little option than to seek a European Arrest Warrant.

“It appears to be simply a matter of crass communication at the hospital,” said Wayne Hollingsworth, a director at Cartwright King solicitors, who deals with care cases.

The Crown Prosecution Service issued a detailed defence last night of its position not to withdraw the European Arrest Warrant once its goal had been secured with the removal of Ashya’s parents to prison on Saturday night. The images of his parents being bundled into a police car after their arrest and subsequent court appearances sparked the increasing public and political demands for a reunion.

“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,” the CPS said in a statement last night.