The parents of a five-year-old who was denied lifesaving treatment on the National Health Service have been arrested for kidnap after desperately trying to get their son so the Czech Republic, where he could be treated privately. Ashya King has a brain tumour but doctors refused to use proton laser treatment that could save his life, which led the family to take him out of hospital in the effort to find the treatment abroad.
Hampshire Police defended their decision to lead an international manhunt for his parents, Brett and Naghemeh, who are now in custody in Spain. They are reported to be unable to see their son, who is believed to be on his own in a hospital in the Costa Del Sol. His brother told the Metro that the Police had been guilty of child cruelty for breaking up the family and leaving Ashya on his own.
His grandmother Patricia was equally critical, saying: “Putting him in a hospital where he doesn’t know anybody is cruel… I have never heard of anything so cruel in all my life.” Authorities are accused of holding Ashya like a virtual prisoner, unable to see family and friends during what might be the last few weeks of his life.
Prior to his arrest, Brett King posted a video on YouTube explaining his actions, he expressed his shock that he was being hunted for kidnap. 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.
He added: “He has been smiling a lot more, he has been smiling a lot more since we took him out of hospital.”
Mr and Mrs King were formally accused this morning of child cruelty, and will be brought before a Spanish judge to decide if they will face criminal charges. Their son will now not be able to access the treatment his parents want and is highly likely to die as a result. The family had hoped to raise the £100,000 needed for the treatment whilst travelling to the Czech republic, but they were caught at a youth hostel in Malaga.
Neither the Chief Constable nor Southampton General Hospital appeared to show any sympathy for the plight of the family. Assistant Chief Constable of Hampshire Police Chris Shead said: “I make no apology for being as proactive as possible in trying to find him. We had medical experts telling us Ashya was in grave danger.”
Whilst it is legal to seek alternative treatment when the NHS is not willing to help, the authorities are able to claim that moving the patient is dangerous. This can leave parents of sick children with few options but to abscond.