Neon Roberts tumour case: Judge gives go-ahead for surgery

Neon and Sally Roberts
Image caption Doctors and Sally Roberts (right) did not agree on Neon's next treatment

A seven-year-old boy with a brain tumour should undergo surgery against his mother's wishes, a court has ruled.

Neon Roberts had a tumour removed last year and his mother Sally was fighting legal action for him to have radiotherapy.

Doctors told the High Court the question had now become whether he had to have an "urgent" operation because some of the tumour remained.

Mr Justice Bodey ruled the surgery should go ahead on Wednesday.

Neon's case was in the Family Division of the High Court because New Zealand-born Mrs Roberts, 37, was opposing action taken by a number of organisations which wanted him to have radiotherapy.

The judge told the court it was likely he would make a ruling by the end of week on any further treatment, including radiotherapy.

'Not bonkers mother'

Mrs Roberts earlier went into hiding with her son because she did not want him to have the treatment, sparking a nationwide search on 5 December before both were found unharmed.

At a hearing on 7 December, the court was told doctors recommended Neon had radiotherapy and said he could die if he did not receive the treatment.

At that hearing Mrs Roberts said she feared it could do long-term harm including causing brain damage and infertility.

She told the court she was not a "bonkers mother" and said she only wanted the best for her son.

On Tuesday, doctors told the court surgery was needed because an MRI scan revealed a residual tumour left from the boy's last operation.

A doctor said it was "highly likely" Neon would die within a "relatively short period" without further treatment.

Mr Justice Bodey said expert evidence showed Neon had a residual cancer growth larger than 1.5 sq cm.

Mrs Roberts told the court she wanted opinions from more doctors: "I feel I need more expert opinion on it before proceeding."

Addressing Mrs Roberts directly, as she had dismissed her counsel, the judge said she did not accept evidence from cancer experts, including a second opinion obtained on her behalf.

The judge rejected arguments that the newly found growth could have been inflamed scar tissue from the last procedure.

Mr Justice Bodey said no-one could fail to be sympathetic with Neon's mother.

But he added that, in such a case of such extreme urgency, further delay would only postpone difficult decisions and "we do not have the luxury of time".

The court was adjourned until Thursday.

Mrs Roberts will now be represented by Imran Khan, who has previously represented the parents of Stephen Lawrence who was stabbed to death in London in 1993.

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