Ashya King: Parents 'to be reunited with son suffering from brain tumour' after prosecutors drop case
The parents of brain tumour patient Ashya King appear set to be reunited with their son after prosecutors dropped the case against them.
Brett and Naghmeh King will face no further action after taking the five-year-old from Southampton General Hospital last Thursday, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
But the couple, who have been detained in Spain since they were arrested on Saturday, appear to be facing another night apart from their son, with the next hearing in their case likely to be held in Madrid tomorrow.
The decision to seek the withdrawal of the European arrest warrant that sparked the pursuit of the parents emerged during a hearing at the High Court in London today and came amid a growing clamour for the family to be reunited.
Lawyers representing the CPS and Portsmouth City Council told Mr Justice Baker of the plan at the start of a hearing in the Family Division.
In a statement following the hearing, the CPS said: "The CPS is currently taking steps to withdraw the European arrest warrants in relation to Brett and Naghemeh King.
"No further action will be taken against Mr and Mrs King and we are now in the process of communicating this decision to the Spanish authorities so that they can be reunited with their son as soon as possible."
David Cameron welcomed the move, saying: "I welcome the prosecution against Ashya King's parents being dropped. It's important this little boy gets treatment and the love of his family."
Simon Hayes, police and crime commissioner for Hampshire, said he would seek assurances about the "quality of the information" provided by the hospital to police.
Mr Hayes said: "The Crown Prosecution Service has made the correct decision to withdraw the European arrest warrant.
"Now Mr and Mrs King can be reunited with Ashya and other members of their family.
"This is a very complex situation and I understand why Hampshire Constabulary took the action it did to request the issuing of the warrant.
"In light of today's announcement by the CPS, I now need to be assured as to the quality of the information given by Southampton General Hospital to Hampshire Constabulary.
"Now that Ashya is receiving the medical assistance he requires and Mr and Mrs King will be reunited with him, this is the time to analyse decisions that were made.
"What is important is that Ashya's family can continue with their quest to get the medical support that he requires."
Today's High Court hearing was scheduled after Portsmouth City Council made an application to make Ashya a temporary ward of court.
Donna Jones, leader of the council, said today: "Like others who have been watching this upsetting case unfolding in the media, I have been moved by the plight of the King family and am most concerned about Ashya.
"I believe what he needs now is to be with his family. That's why I am urging the CPS to urgently review the case involving Ashya King's parents and remove any extradition proceedings, so the family can be reunited with their five-year-old son.
"The council made a temporary wardship application to the High Court last Friday at the request of Southampton Hospital.
"This resulted in a court order that directed Ashya should be taken to the nearest appropriate hospital. I am clear the council was correct in its actions."
Hampshire police, which requested the European arrest warrant "for an offence of cruelty to a person under the age of 16 years" that triggered the hunt for the parents, also called for the family to be reunited.
Andy Marsh, chief constable of Hampshire Police, said: "It is my view as chief constable that the situation today is not right. Irrespective of what has happened, it is our view that Ashya needs both medical treatment and for his parents to be at his side.
"Our intent was to secure his safety, not to deny him family support at this particularly challenging time in his life."
Patricia King, paternal grandmother of Ashya, told Sky News: "He (brother Danny) is going to be allowed to see Ashya any time he wants. That will help a lot, because he's got someone he loves with him. That is one thing, that he won't be on his own.
"The way everybody has behaved - the hospital who are now backtracking, the police who are now backtracking. They've done wrong, they all know they're wrong."
She described the public's support as "absolutely wonderful" and thanked Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg for their help.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the Government was proposing to fly a top oncologist to Spain to advise the family.
He said: "What we want to do is make sure that Ashya's family get the best independent advice.
"We are arranging for an independent expert to fly if the family would like to Spain to give them advice as to exactly what the right course of action is for Ashya going forward."
Mr Hunt said the NHS does offer proton beam therapy for children who need it and had funded 99 patients in the last year, adding: "It is not always appropriate, it is not always safe."
Earlier a spokesman for University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said it had been willing to support the family's wish to go to Prague for treatment.
He said: "While Ashya was under our care, we discussed the option of treatment in this centre with the family and made contact with them at that point.
"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 inquire 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.
"We have of course been open to discussing this; however, since Ashya is a ward of court, at this stage it is for a judge to make all future decisions regarding his treatment.
"The decision to apply for ward of court was made by Portsmouth City Council with our support and on the advice of Hampshire Police."
The apparent about-turn from authorities came after criticism of the Kings' treatment reached new heights.
Several politicians called for the couple to be freed to see their son while legal experts questioned the basis of the actions taken by authorities.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said he believes it is "not appropriate" to "throw the full force of the law" at the Kings, while shadow health secretary Andy Burnham tweeted: "Enough is enough. Ashya King should be reunited with his parents today. Basic humanity demands it."
An online petition calling for Ashya to be reunited with his parents had attracted nearly 200,000 signatures at 5pm tonight.
Ethan Dallas, 16, a friend of Ashya's brother Naveed, who started the petition, delivered it to Downing Street today and said the case had "touched the heart of nations".
It also emerged today that the family are planning legal action against Southampton General Hospital.
Juan Isidro Fernandez Diaz, the couple's lawyer in Spain, said they are "so sad", adding: "They are going to prepare legal demands against the hospital in Southampton. Legal action will be against the hospital."
Belfast Telegraph Digital