UK

Ashya King: Arrest Warrant For Parents To Be Withdrawn, Prosecutors Say

02/09/2014 15:24 BST | Updated 02/09/2014 16:59 BST

The arrest warrant for the parents of five-year-old cancer patient Ashya King is being withdrawn.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is seeking to withdraw the warrant for Brett King, 51, and Naghmeh King, 45, a High Court judge has been told.

The warrant is what is keeping the couple in prison in Spain, while their son is treated in hospital. It was issued after they removed him from Southampton General Hospital without doctors' consent and took him to Spain, seeking treatment that they were told it would not help.

ashya king

Ashya King

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 of the High Court in London.

Andy Marsh, the chief constable of Hampshire Police - which sought the warrant originally - said today that the the boy "needs both medical treatment and for his parents to at his side".

He added: "The situation today is not right."

In court, Lucinda Davis for Portsmouth Council said the hospital in Spain where Ashya was being treated could transfer him back to hospital in England. It also said the hospital could provide chemotherapy in Spain.

She said the issue was whether Ashya should receive proton beam treatment - the type the Kings had sought but were told it was not appropriate.

Ms Davis said the council wanted what was best for Ashya and wanted the High Court to consider the options.

But she said Ashya's parents would need to feature in any court hearing and could not do so when they were under arrest.

ASHYA KING:

Vikram Sachdeva, for Southampton Hospital, said the hospital was proposing a course of chemotherapy, but not proton beam treatment.

He said that could not be provided in England - although this is the favoured option of Ashya's parents.

The application to withdraw the warrant follows a surge in public opinion in favour of the family, who triggered a continental search after they left the country.

Cameron, Nick Clegg and Boris Johnson have all called for them to be reunited with their son, with a petition calling for their release from detention attracted more than 150,000 signatures.

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Ashya with his mother

The deputy prime minister said he believes it is "not appropriate" to "throw the full force of the law" at the Kings, while it also emerged that one of Ashya's brothers has seen him in hospital in Malaga.

On LBC radio this morning, Mr Johnson said the treatment of the Kings "sounds potty to me".

He said: "It seems pretty obvious to me that the parents and the suffering child should be united and if they've got a plan to help cure their boy's illness then they should be supported in that.

"I've probably gone as far I can go, it sounds potty to me, frankly."

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Friends of the King family deliver a petition of calling for their release from prison to Downing Street earlier today

The parents have spent several nights in prison while the Spanish courts decide whether to grant the British extradition request.

Photos and footage have emerged showing them being bundled in and out of police vehicles as they are transported between courts and the prison.

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The Kings arriving for a court hearing

In a letter to officials at the CPS, Home Office, Southampton General Hospital and Portsmouth City Council, Mr Marsh insisted there "can be no doubt" that the arrest warrant "was critical to find Ashya".

He added: "As Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead made clear in his statement on Sunday, Hampshire Constabulary makes no apology for being proactive. We would far rather face criticism for acting proactively than not and risking a child's life."

Hampshire Constabulary is committed to supporting the council in its "safeguarding" role and will support the CPS "if they decide a prosecution is appropriate in the case", Mr Marsh said.

But he went on: "The situation today is different. Since they have been found, Ashya has been taken to a hospital and is receiving medical care and Ashya's family have released information into the public domain that they did not choose to make available during the search period."

Mr Justice Baker was told it was unlikely that the court would get "clarity" today on when the arrest warrant could be lifted.

A lawyer for the CPS said it "appreciated the urgency" and hoped the matter could be resolved as soon as the Spanish court next sits, which is tomorrow.

Spain's state prosecutor will apply to have the warrant withdrawn then, Reuters reported.

Another High Court hearing is due to take place on Monday, in which Mr Justice Baker said he hoped the little boy's parents would be able to take part.