Brain tumour boy’s parents attack British hospital

The parents who removed their ill five-year-old son from a UK hospital and fled to Spain are due to appear in court today.

Five-year-old Ashya King with father Brett in a YouTube video before his parents were arrested
Five-year-old Ashya King with father Brett in a YouTube video before his parents were arrested

Brett and Naghemeh King are facing extradition to the UK after they were arrested in Malaga on Saturday night. It is understood they have been held on suspicion of the maltreatment of a child, it was reported last night.

Yesterday, it emerged they had chosen to remove their son Ashya, who has a brain tumour, from a Southampton hospital against medical advice because they were unable to get specialist treatment on the NHS.

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The couple had travelled to Spain, where they own a property, to raise money for Ashya’s treatment elsewhere.

In a YouTube video, Mr King said they were hoping to get to the Czech Republic to seek proton beam radiotherapy – a treatment that targets tumours directly – for their son.

In the video he said: “It zones in on the area, whereby normal radiation passes through his head and comes out the other side and destroys everything in his head.

“We pleaded with them (in Southampton) for proton beam treatment. They looked at me straight in the face and said with his cancer, which is called medulloblastoma, it would have no benefit whatsoever.”

Ashya’s parents were found by police in Malaga at 9pm UK time on Saturday after an international search. It is understood the couple’s six other children are with them.

Hampshire Police said medical advice was that Ashya was in “grave danger” and told how officers travelled to Spain to “assist the Spanish officers in the extradition proceedings”.

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead said: “I make no apology for being as proactive as possible in trying to find him. I’d much rather be standing here facing criticism over being proactive than do nothing and explain why a child has lost his life.”

A spokesman for Southampton General Hospital said the family had been offered a second opinion for Ashya. He said: “Our priority has always been Ashya’s welfare and we are delighted that he has been found.

“Throughout Ashya’s admission we have had conversations about the treatment options available to him and we had offered the family access to a second opinion, as well as assistance with organising treatment abroad.”

Following the discovery of the family, Ashya was taken to hospital in Malaga. He has since been moved from a high dependency to a lower dependency unit. Mr and Mrs King have not been charged with any offence in Spain and are being held by police Malaga. A judge is expected to consider grounds for their extradition to the UK when they appear in court.

Yesterday, Ashya’s paternal grandmother, Patricia King, said she thought the five-year-old would be better off staying in Spain than remaining in the UK.

She said she was “very, very angry” at the way the investigation had been handled, saying: “It has been taken too far – much too far,” with Ashya now separated from his parents following their arrest.

Ms King, who lives in Southsea, said the experience had been “terrible” for Ashya’s parents, adding her son Brett, 51, and his wife Naghemeh, 45, were “brilliant parents, both of them”.