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Ashya King's parents should be freed now, says Ukip MEP Atkinson

Published 01/09/2014

Brett King and Naghemeh King, the parents of Ashya King, were arrested in Spain after they took the five-year-old brain cancer patient out of hospital without doctors' consent. Hampshire Police/PA Wire
Brett King and Naghemeh King, the parents of Ashya King, were arrested in Spain after they took the five-year-old brain cancer patient out of hospital without doctors' consent. Hampshire Police/PA Wire
Ashya King, who has a brain tumour and was taken by his parents from hospital without the blessing of doctors. Hampshire Police/PA Wire.
Ashya King, who has a brain tumour, being taken from Southampton General Hospital by his father Brett King. Hampshire Police/PA Wire.

Ukip MEP Janice Atkinson has called for Brett and Naghmeh King, the parents who took their sick son Ashya from an English hospital to Spain, to be released immediately.

"I am appalled that Ashya's parents have been arrested. This little boy needs his mother at this time," she said.

"He is five years old, probably doesn't speak Spanish, and will be lying in a hospital bed in distress.

"I call on the Home Secretary to contact the Spanish authorities so that Ashya's parents are released immediately. Then she should ask the assistant chief constable of Hampshire, Chris Shead, why he 'made no apology for the police being proactive' to find Ashya.

"Then I would ask her whether she now thinks that pernicious European arrest warrant works in the hands of over-zealous policemen in the interests of British citizens?"

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

Brett King, 51, and his wife Naghmeh, 45, appeared in court yesterday after they were arrested on Saturday night in Velez-Malaga by Spanish police and legal proceedings are expected to continue today.

Ashya is now being treated in a Spanish hospital and his grandmother and his brother have both criticised the way his parents were being treated.

Mr King's mother, Patricia King, told BBC Breakfast it was an "absolute disgrace" that her son and daughter-in-law had been taken away in handcuffs, accused of child neglect.

Mrs King, who said police searched her home, said: "They (the authorities) are the ones who are cruel because they have taken poor little Ashya who is dying of a brain tumour and they won't let the parents, my son and daughter-in-law, they won't let them see him at all.

"It's terrible, it is so cruel it is unbelieveable.

She added: "To try and make out that he has been neglected well. Why haven't we got any human rights? They keep on, the EU, about human rights. Where are our human rights? We have got none."

Asked whether David Cameron sympathised with Ashya's parents, the Prime Minister's official spokesman told a regular Westminster media briefing: "I think people up and down the country will understand and be moved by the grave illness from which Ashya is suffering.

"First and foremost, the priority must be that he receives the very best and most appropriate medical care.

"Of course, I am sure that every parent wants to do the best for their child. That is probably the most human of human instincts."

Ashya's brother, Naveen, posted a video on YouTube yesterday to disprove the idea that the youngster had been neglected. He showed special food and medical equipment bought for the drive to Spain, and said they also had a new £1,600 wheelchair for Ashya.

Naveen accused doctors in Southampton of not listening to his father, despite his hours of medical research on the internet.

He said: "He did constant research to find out information which could help Ashya which the doctors denied. They did not want to hear about his research as they did not believe any of his information that was being given to him, saying that the internet could not be trusted, whilst the internet gave him information that the doctors would not give him."

A ruling on whether Mr and Mrs King are to be transferred to a Madrid court for an extradition hearing is expected today, according to reports.

The couple's decision to take their son out of hospital has generated heated debate on social media about their right to decide what treatment Aysha receives.

According to reports, they travelled to Spain to sell a holiday home to obtain funds for proton beam therapy, which is not available through the NHS.

They are believed to be in custody while their son, who is suffering from a stage four brain tumour, is cared for away from them at the Materno-Infantil hospital in Malaga.

Television footage yesterday showed the Kings, who are Jehovah's Witnesses, being taken to and from the court in Velez-Malaga to a police car.

Both appeared to be handcuffed as officers pushed them into the police vehicle.

Mr King could be heard saying, "We just want the best for Ashya", while his wife repeated that they just want the "best treatment" for their son.

In a video blog posted on YouTube, Mr King said he had pleaded for proton beam therapy to be used to treat his son but had been told that it would be of no benefit for the medulloblastoma Ashya is suffering.

He also claimed his son's treatment in Southampton seemed like "trial and error" but was told that, if he questioned it, the hospital would seek an emergency protection order.

British police have travelled to Spain to question the couple and yesterday defended their decision to request a European arrest warrant for them on suspicion of neglect.

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead, of Hampshire Constabulary, said he was aware that the police's approach had created a "significant amount of debate" but he would rather be criticised for "being proactive" than "potentially having to explain why a child has lost his life".

Hampshire police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes defended the county's police force against accusations of heavy-handedness.

Mr Hayes BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Ashya had "rights to the complex medical treatment that he needs and he also has the right to the support of his parents" and he did not think it was "good at all" that the five-year-old was on his own in hospital. He said he hoped the boy would be reunited quickly with his parents in the UK.

But asked if police had been "heavy-handed", Mr Hayes said: "I think if Hampshire Constabulary had ignored the professional medical advice and opinion, then they would have been negligent in their responsibilities to safeguard Ashya in this case and young children in general.

"I think the reality is that Hampshire have no jurisdiction to operate outside the UK, so once Ashya's parents had taken him across the Channel, there was no option but to apply for a European arrest warrant to secure the support of other national police forces."

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