Ashya King’s entire family has been banned from visiting him in hospital in Spain as part of “inhuman” restrictions placed on them after the five-year-old cancer patient was made a ward of court by a judge.
Ashya’s parents Brett and Naghemeh remain in custody in Madrid, and could be in jail until Thursday after an extradition hearing was postponed yesterday. Their six other children are unable to visit their brother, who is under police guard in a hospital in Malaga, and they fear his health may be deteriorating because he is likely to be afraid and “confused”.
David Cameron gave his personal backing to the Kings yesterday, saying the couple were only trying to “do the very best for” their son, while other senior MPs accused the British authorities of “criminalising” the family with their “heavy-handed” approach.
Hampshire Police issued a European Arrest Warrant for Mr and Mrs King on suspicion of child neglect last week after the couple removed Ashya from Southampton General Hospital without the consent of doctors who had been treating him for a brain tumour. The couple were found and arrested on Saturday.
It has emerged that Portsmouth City Council successfully applied to a High Court judge for a temporary wardship order on Friday at the request of the hospital, ordering Ashya to be presented for medical treatment.
The order will be reviewed tomorrow, but in the meantime Ashya is a ward of court.
His brother Naveed, 20, told Channel 4 News: “We’re not allowed to go and see Ashya at all.
“There is police standing outside his hospital room. We are not allowed to go and see him. We have tried to call the hospital but they are not revealing any information at all to us.”
He suggested Ashya’s health “might actually deteriorate” because he does not have his family keeping him “entertained and happy” and described the situation as “heartbreaking.”
The Kings travelled to Malaga to sell a property they own there so they would be able to pay for a course of proton beam radiotherapy for Ashya, a relatively new type of cancer treatment which the family says doctors in Southampton had refused to sanction.
Brett King, 51, had contacted a proton therapy centre in Prague, where a course of treatment costs £20,000, on August 20, and yesterday the centre said it was ready to start treating Ashya “immediately”.
Iva Tatounova, the centre’s director of strategy, said: “If Ashya is indicated for proton therapy, the centre is keen on starting the treatment in a few days.
“There would have to be a recommendation from the doctors in Southampton, but we are here, and willing to co-operate. The money can be sorted out later, what matters is to help this child.”
However Mr King and his 45-year-old wife, who had been told Ashya might have just four months to live, could be stranded in Spain for weeks or even months while they fight extradition to the UK.
At Madrid’s Central Criminal Court yesterday Judge Ismael Moreno adjourned their extradition hearing to request more documentation, saying the case would be rescheduled for Thursday afternoon at the latest. The couple are then likely to be released on bail, but extradition hearings could go on for months unless the Crown Prosecution Service, which said the case was under review, decides to drop the extradition request.
The couple’s solicitor Juan Isidno Fernandez Diaz said the couple’s reputations had been “destroyed” and they were taking legal action “against the doctors who have libelled them in the hospital” and against the police “for false detention and libel”.
Danny King, 23, Ashya’s eldest brother, said Ashya was “probably very confused” by what had happened, and “we’re trying to get in with him just obviously to explain”. He said he hoped he would be allowed a hospital visit last night, having been prevented from seeing Ashya since his parents’ arrest.
A well-placed local authority source in Malaga said: “Ashya is in hospital and will remain in hospital for the foreseeable future with a police guard because that is what a judge has ordered.
“Any visits would require judicial permission and to this present moment in time, I am not aware of any judicial notification that visits have been allowed.”
Their grandmother Patricia King suggested the Kings had fled abroad because they had heard of the plan to make Ashya a ward of court.
She said: “The reason that my son took his boy out was because they were to put an order on him to stop him leaving, taking Ashya way from them.
“That’s the reason they left when they did. It’s terrible taking Ashya away from his parents and not letting him see them. It’s absolutely inhuman.”
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “People up and down the country will understand and be moved by the grave illness from which Ashya is suffering…parental instincts are to do the very best for your child. The priority here is the little boy’s health. It is also understandable that the relevant authorities take an interest in cases.”
Dr Michael Marsh, medical director at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said Ashya had a 70-80 per cent chance of living for at least another five years if he gets the right treatment, and regretted that the family had “lost confidence in us.”
Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead, of Hampshire Constabulary, said he was aware the case had caused a “significant amount of debate” but would rather be criticised for “being proactive” than “potentially having to explain why a child has lost his life”.
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