The parents of Ahsya King, the five-year-old with a brain tumour who was taken from hospital without doctors’ permission, say they were seeking medical treatment for their son in the Czech Republic.
British police have begun extradition proceedings to bring back the parents of a five-year-old boy with cancer who was taken from hospital in England without doctors’ consent.
Ashya King is expected to return to Southampton General Hospital for further treatment after he was found with his family by Spanish police on Saturday.
The parents, Brett King, 51, and Naghemeh King, 45, were arrested by Spanish police after a European arrest warrant was issued, and police have 72 hours to question them before handing them over to a judge.
They said they were seeking medical treatment for Ashya in the Czech Republic before they were arrested at 10pm local time after police stopped the family’s vehicle, according to Hampshire Constabulary.
An international search was launched after Ashya’s family took him from hospital on Thursday afternoon and travelled on a ferry to France about two hours later, before heading south to Spain.
Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead of Hampshire Constabulary said he was aware the police’s approach had created a “significant amount of debate”, but added: “I would much sooner be standing here facing criticism for being proactive than to stand here and face criticism for doing nothing and then potentially having to explain why a child has lost his life.”
Mr King posted a video blog on YouTube shortly before their arrest (see top), saying they were fleeing to seek the best treatment for their son.
When Spanish police stopped the family’s Hyundai people carrier, officers found Ashya and his parents inside.
Mr Shead said: “There are no winners in this situation. I’ve said all along that this must be a terribly distressing time for Ashya’s family and I stand by that now.”
“Ashya’s brothers and sisters were not in the vehicle,” he added. “We have located them. They’re all OK, they’re fine. They are actually in a hotel about 10 miles away.”
Mr King said he had spoken to specialists following surgery to remove Ashya’s brain tumour and had requested proton beam treatment, which was not available on the NHS, but that he would raise the money to pay for it.
He said his son’s treatment seemed like “trial and error” and he was told if he questioned the treatment the hospital would seek an emergency protection order.
He added: “After that I realised I can’t speak to the oncologist at all, because if I actually ask anything or give any doubt I wasn’t in full accord with them, they were going to get a protection order which meant in his deepest, darkest hour I wouldn’t be there to look after him, and neither would my wife – they would prevent us from entering the ward.
“That’s such a cruel system I decided I to start looking at the proton beam myself.”
Mr King urged police to call off “this ridiculous chase”.
“We’re not neglecting our son, he’s in perfectly good health.”
Mr King, a Jehovah’s Witness, said in his YouTube post that Ashya was doing well and explained that the family had decided to take him out of hospital to seek a cancer treatment called proton beam which is not available on the NHS.
Sitting on a bed with Ashya in his arms, Mr King said: “We were most disturbed today to find that his face is all over the internet and newspapers and we have been labelled as kidnappers putting his life at risk, neglect.”
Ashya’s brother Naveed King posted on his Facebook page a link to a donations page to help fund care for Ashya, saying he had received “hundreds of emails” from people wanting to give money.
A petition has also been launched by a friend of the family, appealing for the right of Ashya’s parents to choose medical treament for their son, saying they have been “wrongly accused” of child neglect.
Mr King said in his post there had been “a lot of talk” about the machine used to feed Ashya and whether they could make it work. Police had warned that the family might not be able to work the machine and that it would run out of battery power.
But in the video blog, Mr King said: “As you can see there’s nothing wrong with him, he is very happy actually since we took him out of hospital.
“He’s very sick. I just want to get on with his treatment. I’m not coming back to England if I cannot give him the treatment I want, which is proper treatment.
“I just want positive results for my son.”