Ashya's grandmother 'relieved' as parents begin moves for son's treatment

The grandmother of brain tumour patient Ashya King said she was “relieved” his parents had been released from a Spanish prison but the authorities in the UK needed to be held to account.

Ashya's grandmother 'relieved' as parents begin moves for son's treatment

The grandmother of brain tumour patient Ashya King said she was “relieved” his parents had been released from a Spanish prison but the authorities in the UK needed to be held to account.

Patricia King said she was told by one of her grandsons last night that her son Brett and daughter-in-law Naghmeh would be set free from Soto del Real prison near Madrid after British authorities dropped the case against them.

The Kings were arrested on Saturday after they took five-year-old Ashya from Southampton General Hospital without the consent of doctors last Thursday.

On their release from prison last night, they said they were “relieved” and “tired” as they prepared to be reunited “as soon as possible” with their son.

Mrs King said she was “so happy” that the couple had been released and she was expecting to speak to her son later on today.

She said: “I spoke to Naveed, one of my grandsons. They are elated but they are absolutely worn out.

“My two grandsons have been doing so much work over there to help them.”

Mrs King said she expected the family would take Ashya to Prague for proton beam treatment as soon as they were allowed to “get it done because there is no time to delay”.

She said: “They have had offers from America but that would be too far for him to travel.

“The pressure from the plane, he would not be able to stand it.

“I haven’t slept. My head is whirring and I have been worrying all the time. They (Brett and Naghmeh) must have had a terrible time of it.”

Mrs King said a European arrest warrant should never have been issued in the first place and criticised Hampshire Constabulary and Southampton General Hospital for the way they had dealt with the situation.

She said: “Everyone is trying to backtrack after lying – the police, the hospital.

“They have not told a word of truth to try and make themselves look good.

“It’s been lies and then U-turns.”

A spokesman for the Proton Therapy Centre (PTC) in the Czech Republic said it had received additional information concerning the status of Ashya's health.

He said Dr Gary Nicolin, a consultant paediatric oncologist and lead for paediatric neuro-oncology at the Department of Paediatric Oncology at University Hospital Southampton, had sent complete medical reports, including operation notes, histology reports and imaging reports.

He said the PTC medical board reviewed this documentation at 8am today.

Dr Jiri Kubes, head of proton therapy at Proton Therapy Center Czech, said: “We have agreed that proton therapy is a suitable method of treatment for Ashya.

“So, Ashya shall go for proton therapy to the Czech Republic. However, prior to this he will need to return to England first.”

The centre said Dr Nicolin had confirmed that Ashya must first undergo two cycles of chemotherapy, which are expected to take several weeks.

After that he would be able to travel to Prague for proton therapy, the spokesman said.

Naveed King told ITV News that progress was being made to get Ashya to the Czech Republic for treatment as soon as possible.

He said: “We can now just carry on with what we had planned to give him the proton beam treatment, you know, if it’s the go ahead with all the doctors... to allow Ashya to be treated. As far as I know, it is.

“Progress is being made to get Ashya to the Czech Republic to get everything sorted as soon as possible.

“I am still waiting on news.”

Following his release last night, Brett King told reporters: “We’re very relieved to be free.”

Speaking in both Spanish and English, he said: “We are very grateful to Spain for the support and help we have received.

“We will go to see my son as soon as possible, we have been dying to see his face for so long.

“Thank you to Spain for helping us and thank you to England too.”

He added: “I’m sorry we can’t say more, I’m very tired.”

A judge ordered the release after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it was seeking the withdrawal of the European arrest warrant that sparked the pursuit of the parents.

The CPS said it had arranged with Southampton Magistrates’ Court for proceedings to be dropped and the arrest warrants discharged.

It said: “The CPS has urgently reviewed the case and we consider there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction for any criminal offence. We have therefore decided to stop the criminal proceedings.”

Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the news and said it was “important this little boy gets treatment and the love of his family”.

Simon Hayes, police and crime commissioner for Hampshire, said he was seeking assurances about the “quality of the information” provided by the hospital to police.

University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said the tumour was successfully removed on July 24 and a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy should start within four to six weeks to prevent the tumour returning.

It said the treatment would give Ashya a 70-80% chance of survival.

In a statement, it said: “During discussions, Ashya’s family indicated that they wished him to undergo proton radiotherapy instead of standard radiotherapy.

“This option was explored with the family and they were informed that in Ashya’s case there is likely to be no difference in survival between standard radiotherapy and proton radiotherapy and overall no proven significant benefit.

“Therefore, the Trust considers there is no benefit to Ashya of proton radiotherapy over standard radiotherapy.

“This view is supported by a national independent expert body.

“Despite this, the Trust agreed with the family to refer Ashya for proton radiotherapy, as the family had indicated that they could fund it privately.

“On August 28 2014, during unsupervised leave on the Trust’s grounds, Ashya’s family chose to remove him without informing or seeking the consent of medical staff.”

The Trust had been concerned for Ashya’s safety for many reasons, and contacted the police, in line with Trust policy, to alert them to the situation.

It added: “The Trust will offer any assistance that it can to ensure that Ashya receives urgent treatment at an appropriate hospital.”

Britain's Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the British Government was proposing to fly a top oncologist to Spain to advise the family.

He said the NHS offers 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.”

More in this section

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox