THE parents of brain cancer patient Ashya King are planning legal action against Southampton General Hospital, it emerged today as Nick Clegg joined mounting calls for the family to be reunited.
Brett and Naghmeh King’s lawyer revealed the ‘desperate’ couple are considering ‘demands’ against the hospital from which they took their five-year-old son last Thursday.
It came as 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.
The couple, who were arrested in Spain after Ashya was taken from a UK hospital without doctors’ consent, have spent another night away from him.
A judge in Madrid has ruled that they must be held for up to 72 hours while the court considers whether to grant a British extradition request.
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.’
Mr Diaz told BBC’s Radio 5 Live that the couple ‘wanted the very best for their child’.
He said: ‘They never thought that they committed any crime in the UK.
‘The child is in perfect conditions. All the doctors said (there was) no problem with the child to travel from England to Spain because the father knows (how) to give treatment to the child.
‘We are saying the boy is not in danger. The big brother is with the boy and he is in perfect conditions.’
Mr Clegg’s intervention came amid growing calls for the couple’s release from detention, with an online petition attracting more than 80,000 signatures.
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘My heart goes out - and I’m sure every mum or dad will have the same response, which is, as far as I can make out, this is a family in a state of real anguish who have taken this exceptional step of moving their sick child to another country because they think that’s what is best for their child.
‘We can debate whether it is or is not but that seems to be their motive and those are not motives I can argue with.
‘That’s why I personally think that throwing the full force of the law at Mr and Mrs King, who appear to be doing what they believe to be best for their own family, I don’t think is an appropriate thing to do. But that, at the end of the day, is for the police and the CPS and others to decide.
‘But that’s my personal view and I do hope, for that reason, it’ll be resolved.
‘A little boy is on his own in a hospital, doesn’t speak Spanish, is cut off from his parents and his siblings and I would like to see him together with his family as soon as possible.’
He told Sky News ‘consular assistance’ is being provided to the family.
He added: ‘My understanding is that Ashya’s older brother did spend some considerable time yesterday afternoon and evening with him in hospital, and the Crown Prosecution Service have said they are looking at this case urgently from top to toe.
‘I very much, as a person, an individual - I’m not making a political pronouncement here - I understand people’s widespread reaction, which is that you can debate whether that is the right treatment or not for this little boy, but for heaven’s sake keep this little boy and his parents and his family together.’
The boy is being treated in a hospital in Malaga and his grandmother and brother have criticised the way his parents are being treated.
The family took him from Southampton General Hospital last Thursday and travelled to France with him and his six siblings before heading to the Costa del Sol in southern Spain.
Mr King, 51, and his 45-year-old wife were arrested in Velez-Malaga on Saturday night.
Nick Clegg: ‘At least keep the family together’
Mr Clegg told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘I’m sure the CPS will be conscious of the opinion of people like me in government but of the public generally which say, look, let’s set aside for a minute whether that was the right thing medically for Ashya or not but at least keep the family together and let them act as a family because, as far as I can see - I don’t know them of course myself - but as far as I can see, Mr and Mrs King are acting in what they believe is the best interest of their own child.’
Ethan Dallas, a friend of Ashya’s brother Naveed, told the programme he will take the petition containing nearly 100,000 signatures calling for the family to be reunited to Downing Street later.
He said: “I think that he (David Cameron) just needs to release Brett and his wife and allow them to choose the treatment that they see fit for their son.’
Mr Dallas said the family are ‘really stressed’.
He said: ‘I’ve spoken to Naveed on Skype and he’s said that they are all super-stressed, they’ve barely slept at all and they’re just really, really hoping to see their little brother really soon.’
Ashya King’s case has almost become a child protection issue, says former children’s minister
Former children’s minister Tim Loughton said the biggest outrage was that Ashya’s case had almost become a child protection issue and his parents were being criminalised when that was ‘clearly not the case’.
The Tory MP said an arrest warrant should not have been issued and that Mr and Mrs King should not be in custody.
He said: ‘The CPS needs to drop this and make sure the parents come out and go and see their child.
‘A very urgent conversation needs to be had with the NHS as to whether they will entertain grounds of them coming back here and going to a private clinic for proton beam treatment, which should be NHS or privately funded, or they should be allowed to take Ashya to Prague.’
Mr Loughton said he had not heard of any overriding clinical reason that the proton beam treatment would be detrimental to Ashya’s health.
He also criticised Hampshire Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead for the way he had handled the situation.
He said: ‘It was a rather hapless interview by the assistant chief constable, who did not seem to know why they were looking to arrest the parents.
‘We were told there was a danger to the child’s life, but the child is in hospital so a little bit of common sense might have led them to look at whether there was a threat to his life.
‘Clearly people are not talking to each other properly and clearly people are not using common sense.
‘Everyone is being bureaucratic and defensive and jumping on to the child protection bandwagon.’