Grandmother says police went ‘over the top’ in hunt for ill boy

British police defend reaction after Ashya King found in Spain and parents arrested

 

The grandmother of a five-year-old brain cancer patient whose parents took him out of hospital without doctors’ consent has criticised police for arresting the couple.

Ashya King’s family took him from Southampton General Hospital on Thursday afternoon and travelled on a ferry to France with the boy and his six siblings before heading south to the Costa del Sol in southern Spain.

Brett King (51) and Naghmeh King (45) both Jehovah’s Witnesses, were arrested at 10pm local time yesterday in Velez-Malaga by Spanish police. Hampshire police today defended their decision to request a European arrest warrant for the Kings on suspicion of neglect after they decided to leave the country with

Ashya to seek a form of treatment that is not available on the NHS. But Mr King’s mother, Patricia King, said that they had “gone over the top” after officers used a warrant to search her flat in Southsea, Portsmouth. Ms King told the BBC: “I’m very angry, I think it’s been taken too far, much too far. “Brett couldn’t believe it, that Ashya’s pictures were all over the papers and they said he’d kidnapped his own son. He’s really upset.

“The police have talked to me and my flat’s been search. Two policewomen and a police man came to my home with a warrant and searched my flat. I’m disgusted.”

The grandmother also said that she had been asked to make a statement but had refused.

British police are thought to have questioned the Kings today before a Spanish judge opens extradition proceedings against them.

The couple is being held in custody and officers have a maximum of 72 hours to question them before handing the matter over to the court. According to reports in local media, they are expected to appear in a Madrid court at 9.30am local time tomorrow.

Aysha, who had received surgery for a stage four brain tumour before travelling to Spain, is thought to be in a stable condition and is being treated at the Materno-Infantil hospital in Malaga. His six brothers and sisters are still thought to be in the southern Spanish city.

Earlier today Police defended their decision to launch an international search Assistant chief constable Chris Shead, of Hampshire Constabulary, said he was aware the police’s approach had created a “significant amount of debate”.

He said: “We had medical experts telling us that Ashya was in grave danger. Medical experts were saying to us that if he didn’t get the care that he needed, there was a potential threat to his life.

“Faced with those circumstances, I make no apology for the police being as proactive as we possibly can to actually find Ashya and ensure that he gets the help he needed.”

Mr Shead explained that British officers would be assisting Spanish authorities with extradition proceedings.

Brett King video blog

The officer explained that after Ashya’s parents were arrested on suspicion of neglect he was taken to a hospital in Malaga last night and placed in a high dependency unit.

Officers said the boy was due to be returned to hospital in England while his parents - including Mr King, who in a video blog on YouTube shortly before their arrest, said they were fleeing to seek the best treatment for their son - are due to be interviewed by police.

Spanish police were acting on a European arrest warrant requested by Hampshire Constabulary when they arrested the Kings.

When they 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.”

He added that it was too soon to say when Ashya would come back to the UK but Southampton General Hospital have been contacted so they can liaise with the medical taking care of him in Spain.

“Ashya’s brothers and sisters were not in the vehicle,” Mr Shead said. “We have located them. They’re all OK, they’re fine. They are actually in a hotel about 10 miles away.”

He also said that a team of Hampshire police officers would be going to Spain today to continue the investigation.

In the YouTube blog, Mr King, a Jehovah’s Witness, said 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.”

Mr King said 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 has been smiling a lot more, he has very much been interacting with us.

”But I just wanted to say very quickly why we took him out of the hospital.

”The surgeon did a wonderful job on his head that took out the brain tumour, completely they reckon.

”But straight away afterwards he went into what’s called posterior fossa syndrome, which means very limited moving or talking or doing anything.”

Mr King said he had spoken to specialists following Ashya’s surgery and had requested proton beam treatment, which was not available on the NHS, but that he would raise the money to pay for it.

Mr King 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.

Mr King urged police to call off “this ridiculous chase”.

”We’re not neglecting our son, he’s in perfectly good health,” he said.

”My son is smiling, he’s happy, we’re doing things as a family. We just want to be left in peace. 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.”

Agencies