A mother who was jailed after being accused of poisoning her daughter by taking her abroad for an alternative therapy has now been exonerated after the case against her collapsed in court. Mary Kidson rejected the NHS’s assessment of her daughter’s condition and sought alternative treatment in Belgium, only to be hounded by her ex-husband, the NHS and social services upon her return, in a case that chillingly echoes that of Ashya King, whose parents were arrested in Spain while trying to access life-saving care for him.
Ms Kidson has spoken of her relief at having her name cleared, but also her devastation that she has yet to be reunited with her daughter, who was removed from her care and subsequently placed in a psychiatric institution following a breakdown caused by the separation.
“It’s unbelievable what I’ve been through,” she told the Mail. “I am very angry and fed up as I was completely misrepresented prior to my acquittal.”
Ms Kidson’s daughter had been unwell for some time, suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome which had left her virtually bed-ridden. Repeated attempts to get help for her daughter led Ms Kidson to believe that her daughter was suffering from hormone deficiency, which the NHS doesn’t recognise. So in desperation Ms Kidson turned to Dr Thierry Hertoghe, a world-renowned Belgian physician in the field of hormone therapy.
In 2012 Ms Kidson travelled with her daughter to his Brussels clinic, where he diagnosed deficiencies in oestrogen, growth hormone and cortisol, and prescribed medication to correct the deficiencies over a period of months. According to Dr Hertoghe, the treatment led to a marked improvement in the girl’s condition.
However, in March 2013, two months after their return, Ms Kidson’s ex-husband Michael discovered the therapy had taken place and called the police who arrested Ms Kidson for child cruelty, holding her for 24 hours before releasing her on bail.
The judge granting bail also ordered that the daughter return to school, having been home-schooled by Ms Kidson for a number of years, and live with her father. Ms Kidson’s sister, Ruth Stobbs told the Mail “The judge also ordered that my niece go back to school. She had been home-educated from age ten. Suddenly facing a return to school, without her mother around to support her, was too much for her. She hated it.”
The girl ran away twice, and earlier this year locked herself in her father’s bathroom, where she sent a text to her mother. Mary, worried that the girl would harm herself, texted back – breaching the rules of her bail. Michael again called the police, telling them and social services that she planned to take their daughter out of the country. Mary was taken first into custody, then to Eastwood Park prison near Bristol where she remained until her court case earlier this week.
In January she was charged under the Offences Against the Person Act with poisoning her daughter with the hormone treatment, and was allowed only two hours supervised contact per fortnight, having been separated from her since March 2013. Her daughter became so distressed at their separation that she suffered a mental breakdown and was detained under the Mental Health Act. She remains in a psychiatric hospital.
“She is on the verge of discharge but I still don’t know when I can see her,” said Ms Kidson.
“I’m very angry with the way the Crown Prosecution Service, social services and the police all dealt with this. They formed an opinion of me without even meeting me.”
At court, the prosecuting team accused Ms Kidson of “doctor shopping”, saying that she had toured hospital clinics both in Britain and abroad until she was given a diagnosis that she found acceptable.
“The whole case raises the question of a parent’s right to find treatment outside the NHS for their child. Adults have total freedom to go wherever we want in the world for our health care but if you’re a child it seems only the NHS can treat you.
“I have been through a huge ordeal. As things become clear I will make decisions about whether I am going to sue anyone.”
“I tried to make the best of it in prison, and I was treated well, but my life will never be the same again.”
Speaking in support of Ms Kidson, Dr Hertoghe said that the trial “should never have taken place,” and called for widespread reforms on patient choice within the NHS. “Two lives have been broken. The whole system needs reform. We have to give people the right to choose their doctor without fear of prosecution.”
The case echoes that of Ashya King, who was being treated for a brain tumour by the NHS when his parents took him abroad to seek proton therapy treatment, a more modern form of radiotherapy that greatly reduces the risk of long term disability posed by conventional radiotherapy to the brain.
In September Breitbart London reported on how the Kings had been treated like criminals for removing Ashya from hospital to pursue treatment abroad. They were chased by police across Europe to Spain, where they were arrested and held for a week whilst the Spanish courts ruled on whether to return the family to England for conventional radiotherapy.
Whilst they were abroad, their local council also applied in court for – and won – a court order making five-year-old Ashya a ward of court, meaning that the council, not his parents, would have the final say over his ongoing treatment.
In the end, the weight of public opinion led to the Crown Prosecution Service dropping their bid to order the family back, allowing the Kings to continue on to Prague for the life-saving treatment. However, with the course of treatment successfully over, the Kings have vowed not to return to the UK due to fears that the authorities will try to take him again.
Asked by Sky News why the family was unwilling to return to the UK, Mr King replied “Because there is so much still at stake.
“We wouldn’t want to lose Ashya. It would probably never happen but just having that small risk that you don’t have to do anything wrong to have your children taken away and (be) thrown in prison…”