The parents of Ashya King have been reunited with their sick son. Brett and Naghmeh King saw the five-year-old brain tumour patient today for the first time since they were arrested on Saturday. But it was reported that they would not be permitted to remove the child from hospital.
A spokeswoman for the Materno-Infantil hospital in Malaga, where Ashya is being treated, said local authorities had received notification from British officials that the parents should not be allowed to take the boy away. It was not clear which UK authority she was referring to.
The reunion initially appeared to be in doubt when Mr King claimed he would be barred from visiting the child after he was made a ward of court, but it was established that those proceedings do not stop the couple seeing him. Speaking as he entered the hospital surrounded by a throng of media, Mr King said: "We have come to see him but they won't let me see him.
"If I see him, then they will arrest me." Ashya was temporarily made a ward of court last week. But at a hearing in the High Court yesterday Mr Justice Baker expressed concerns that the child was separated from his parents and no objections have been raised to the couple seeing him. The Judicial Office said no decision about Ashya's future can be taken without the court's approval.
A spokesman said: "At the hearing (yesterday), the judge adjourned the case until Monday to allow the parents an opportunity to be represented and put forward their proposals for Ashya's treatment. If there is a dispute between the parents and the medical authorities as to the right course of treatment, the court will make the decision, probably at the hearing on Monday.
"If the parties are in agreement, the court will endorse that agreement, and the judge indicated in court that he will be available at all times to give his approval if an agreement is reached before Monday so that treatment can be started without further delay."
Earlier the couple spoke in public about their ordeal for the first time since they were freed from Soto del Real prison last night. They were released after British authorities abandoned their attempts to extradite them amid a public backlash. Mrs King said she had been "crying and crying" as she described the torment of being unable to help her son from the jail cell near Madrid where she and her husband have been detained since they were arrested on Saturday.
She told the BBC:"What could I do in a prison cell? I was just praying so I could be reunited with him again. All I could do was just cry and pray." Mr King said his heart was "aching" to see Ashya again and hit out at their treatment since they removed him from Southampton General Hospital almost a week ago, saying they had been "treated like terrorists".
He claimed he had previously informed the hospital about his plans to seek proton therapy for his son but kept the date that he intended to take him secret for fear he would be stopped. He said: "I said to them 'I'm going. The NHS is not going to pay, I've got to sort this out for my son'." But he claimed he could not disclose when he planned to remove Ashya because he had previously been "threatened".
"I couldn't actually tell them the day because they had threatened me previously," he said. "When I just asked 'What is cancer? How did my son get it? Is there any alternatives?', straight away they said if I ask any more questions the right for me to make a decision would be taken away from me because they get an immediate court paper to say that they have right over my child.
"So from that moment I had so much fear to mention anything to them because they could have stopped my son getting any treatment and just forcing this very strong treatment on him. I couldn't tell them when because otherwise they might have stopped me. I was in fear."
Speaking outside Southampton General Hospital, Dr Peter Wilson, chief paediatrician, told Sky News that the family had made it clear that they would like to take Ashya to Prague but that the hospital had no idea the family had planned to leave. He said the family were not keen on parts of the treatment which had been suggested and that there were discussions about different forms of treatment.
He said: "We had made it very clear what could be offered on the NHS. While were we having those discussions, the family made it very clear they would like to go to Prague. At no stage did they say they were going to take Ashya and go to Prague." He said that when they found he was missing from the hospital they were "slightly surprised" and said there was information they had not been able to share with the media which had "made us very worried for Ashya's safety".
Asked whether they had threatened Mr and Mrs King with an order which would have taken away their right to make decisions about their son's care, he said: "Absolutely not. We absolutely disagree with that statement." He said there had been a discussion where the family had asked specifically what would happen if they refused the treatment being discussed, and that doctors had told them court orders could be made in "exceptional circumstances".
Dr Wilson added: "At no stage did we say we would threaten them with a court order if they refused treatment." David Cameron told MPs that decisions taken in Ashya's case were "not correct". Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, he said: "To be fair to the authorities involved in the case of Ashya King, they all want to do the best for the child. That's what they are thinking of."
Earlier the Proton Therapy Centre in the Czech Republic claimed it had been sent Ashya's medical records and believed the technique was suitable for him. Dr Jiri Kubes, head of proton therapy at the clinic in Prague, said: "So, Ashya shall go for proton therapy to the Czech Republic. However, prior to this he will need to return to England first."
A fundraising page set up to help pay for the treatment has so far raised more than £21,000, while Charity Kids'n'CancerUK said they have agreed to pay the £100,000 needed for Ashya's treatment, plus living costs, after a donors pledged £35,000 in 24 hours.
Chief executive Mike Hyman said: "I have spoken to Ashya's brother, Naveed, and he is dead chuffed." In a statement tonight, Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones said there appeared to have been a "misunderstanding" today and called for urgent clarification about Ashya's treatment. She said: "I am deeply disturbed that the King family have been through such an ordeal today whilst visiting Ashya.
"I urge the court to review this situation urgently, including where and what country Ashya can receive treatment, if this is what the parents want. It's obvious there has been a misunderstanding today. I understand contact is being made with the family to try and discuss the situation. However I want to send a heartfelt message to Mr and Mrs King that I am here for them and I will do all I can to support them."