Judge rules seven-year-old Neon must have surgery as mother is overruled

Sally Roberts, the mother of Neon, leaves the High Court yesterday. Picture: Getty
Sally Roberts, the mother of Neon, leaves the High Court yesterday. Picture: Getty
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A SEVEN-year-old boy at the centre of a legal dispute over cancer treatment is due to undergo more surgery on a brain tumour today against his mother’s wishes.

Sally Roberts wanted any operation on her son Neon delayed until more doctors had been consulted about the need for further surgery.

But a High Court judge yesterday ruled that further treatment should go ahead after a specialist said an operation needed to be carried out urgently.

Mr Justice Bodey, who heard evidence at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London, said the gains outweighed the risks.

He said the hospital where Neon would undergo surgery should not be identified.

Ms Roberts, 37, of Brighton, said she wanted further medical opinions from doctors in Russia, Germany and the United States, and asked for the surgery on her son to be postponed.

She told the court: “I would greatly appreciate having this opinion before we proceed with surgery. I feel I need more expert opinion on it before proceeding.”

But a doctor treating Neon said a scan showed that more surgery needed to be carried out “urgently”.

He said tests had shown there was “residual tumour” left behind after the first operation.

And he said a second doctor had agreed with his analysis.

The doctor said the tumour could spread without surgery and he added it was “highly likely” that Neon would die within a “relatively short period” without further treatment.

Mr Justice Bodey said: “I have reflected on the mother’s concerns and no-one could fail to sympathise. I have weighed up the risks attached with surgery. I am quite satisfied that surgery is in his best interests.”

Earlier this month, Ms Roberts, who comes from New Zealand, told the High Court that she objected to Neon having radiotherapy treatment following his first operation.

Ms Roberts said she feared that radiotherapy would cause Neon long-term harm. Doctors said that Neon might die within months without radio-therapy.

Mr Justice Bodey had been due to make a ruling on whether Neon should undergo radiotherapy treatment against the wishes of his mother. But that ruling was delayed after doctors said the boy needed more surgery.

Mr Justice Bodey yesterday said he would hear further argument about the pros and cons of radiotherapy at a High Court hearing in London on Thursday – before making a decision on the issue.

Neon’s father Ben, who lives in London and is separated from Ms Roberts, had not objected to his son having further surgery. He told the court he had agreed to radiotherapy treatment, but was “apprehensive”.

The case first hit the headlines in early December when Ms Roberts – then living in Tiverton, Devon – disappeared with Neon. Both were found safe after a judge ordered a search.

Ms Roberts apologised for vanishing and told Mr Justice Bodey that she had panicked.

She is to be represented by Imran Khan, one of Britain’s best-known solicitors, at future hearings, the court heard.

Mr Khan previously represented the parents of Stephen Lawrence, who was stabbed to death in London in 1993.

He also represented the family of Victoria Climbié, the eight-year-old who was murdered by her guardians in London in 2000 .

That case led to a public inquiry and changes in child protection policy.

Ms Roberts, who had been represented by another lawyer until yesterday, said she had decided to make a change.