England

Clegg calls for Ashya King to be reunited with parents

Ashya and Naghemeh Image copyright Naveed King
Image caption A picture posted on Facebook showed Ashya with his mother Naghemeh King

Nick Clegg has called for brain tumour patient Ashya King's parents to be freed and reunited with their son.

Brett and Naghemeh King are being held in custody in Madrid after removing Ashya from hospital in Southampton and travelling to Spain.

There have been growing calls for their release after they spent another night away from the five-year-old.

An internal inquiry into the case has begun at Southampton General Hospital, the BBC understands.

The Home Office has been in contact with Hampshire Constabulary to discuss their handling of the case, the Prime Minister's spokesman confirmed.

Home Secretary Theresa May also told the House of Commons she hoped MPs "will be reassured to know that I understand that the [Crown Prosecution Service] are reviewing this issue as we speak".

Prime Minister David Cameron told LBC Radio there needed to be a "rapid outbreak of common sense."

He said the Government could not tell the police how to act or intervene in legal processes overseas but said he wanted to see the family back together.

'Real anguish'

Mr Clegg, the deputy prime minister, said his "heart goes out" to the parents.

"A little boy is on his own in a hospital, I would like to see him with his family as soon as possible," he said.

"As far as I can make out, this is a family in a state of real anguish who have taken this exceptional step of moving their sick child to another country because they think that's what is best for their child."

Image copyright NAVEED KING
Image caption Ashya King's father Brett spoke in a YouTube video explaining why they had travelled to Spain

He believes it is "not appropriate" to "throw the full force of the law" at the parents.

Earlier, a CPS spokesman said: "Once this evidence has been thoroughly examined, a decision will then be made as to whether a prosecution is required."

Meanwhile, the couple's lawyer in Spain, told the BBC a hearing has been scheduled at Madrid's Central Court on Wednesday at 11:00 local time.

Lawyer Juan Isidro Fernandez Diaz, said they are also preparing to take legal action against Southampton General Hospital.

He said they "wanted the very best for their child."

"They never thought that they committed any crime in the UK," he said.

Arrest warrant

More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition demanding Ashya be reunited with his parents.

The petition was delivered to Downing Street by friends of the King family.

Ethan Dallas, 16, who set up the petition, said they felt the family had been "mistreated" while trying to get the best treatment for Ashya.

Hampshire Constabulary obtained a European arrest warrant on 29 August on the grounds the Kings neglected their son.

A High Court judge in Madrid ruled on Monday they will remain in custody for a maximum of 72 hours while he considers granting bail.

One of his brothers was allowed to visit Ashya on Monday night, the family lawyer said.

Mr King, 51, and Mrs King, 45, were arrested on Saturday night in Velez-Malaga.

Image caption Ashya's eldest brother Danny King said he had been allowed to visit the five-year-old

The family took Ashya from Southampton General Hospital last Thursday and travelled to France with him and his six siblings before heading to the Costa del Sol in southern Spain.

They want him to receive a treatment which they say was not made available to him on the NHS.

The treatment, proton beam therapy, is only available in the UK on the NHS for eye conditions, but patients with other conditions can be sent abroad.

The Proton Therapy Centre (PTC) in Prague, Czech Republic, which received a request from Brett King on 20 August, said on Monday it can treat Ashya immediately if he is eligible.

A spokesperson for University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said they had discussed the option of this type of therapy with the King family and said: "We were willing to support the family's transfer to Prague for proton beam radiotherapy, although we did not recommend it.

"The Proton Therapy Centre has been in touch again yesterday afternoon to enquire about Ashya's potential future care and confirm that they would be keen to treat him if he is suitable according to the relevant criteria."

Dr Michael Marsh, medical director at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said: "It's really important that the family and the medical and nursing teams have good communication and relationships.

"In Ashya's case we really regret that the communication and relationship broke down to the extent that the family lost trust in the team that were caring for him."

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