Gran’s relief as path is cleared for Ashya King to have treatment

A family picture of Ashya King and his brother Naveed
A family picture of Ashya King and his brother Naveed
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THE grandmother of Ashya King says the seriously-ill boy has been given a fighting chance of survival after a judge ruled he could receive crucial treatment.

The UK’s High Court last night gave the five-year-old’s family permission to leave Spain and fly him to Prague for proton beam therapy for a brain tumour.

The ruling came following talks involving UK and Spanish lawyers representing the boy’s parents, Brett and Naghmeh King, of Southsea.

It was agreed that an order put in place which made the court Ashya’s legal guardian – which was applied for by Portsmouth City Council – would be lifted. The Kings could leave for the Czech Republic as early as today.

Ashya’s gran Patricia King, of Southsea, said the news was an ‘enormous relief’ for the family.

‘I’m absolutely delighted and so pleased that it is all going right,’ she said. ‘It’s an enormous relief.’

‘This means everything to me. It could save his life. Ashya had no hope of anything whatsoever.

‘It’s been a terrible time for the parents in terms of what they have been through.

‘We are just a normal family and yet we have been treated like terrorists.’

Ashya’s aunt Tracy King, 49, from Southsea, told The News: ‘It’s a relief that he’s going to get the treatment at last, as he should have done in the first place.

‘It’s been horrendous, but it’s been worse for my brother, sister-in-law and the children.

‘They should never have done this to a poor kid who’s got cancer – it’s so cruel.’

Ms King added: ‘I want to say a big thank you to everybody who has taken time out of their own lives to help my nephew.

‘Everybody has worked so hard for this. They are so kind.’

Yesterday, Juan Isidiro Fernandez, representing the King family, assured Justice Baker at the High Court that funds were available to take the family to Prague and in place to pay the £90,000 cost of his treatment.

Evidence was shown that a treatment plan was in place.

Tens of thousands of pounds has been raised from fundraisers and Chesterfield charity Kids ‘n’ Cancer has pledged to pay for ongoing treatment.

Cllr Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, had urged the court to lift the legal barrier preventing the family from seeking treatment for Ashya.

She said: ‘I’m delighted with the news that Ashya will get to receive urgent treatment that he needs in Prague.

‘The way the city has rallied behind this Portsmouth family is very humbling.’

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Portsmouth Lib Dem group leader, said he was delighted for the family, but the council should never have got involved applying for the court order.

The authority applied to make Ashya a ward of court on the back of concerns raised by Southampton General Hospital about his welfare after his parents took him away.

‘I’m still disappointed that the family was subject to a ward of court,’ he said.

‘But I’m glad this has happened. The family have got the boy’s best interests at heart and they should have been allowed to do things without the permission of the court and council.’

Southampton General Hospital insisted it did everything it could for Ashya.

A spokesman for University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘The judgement will allow Ashya to get the treatment he urgently needs without any further delays.

‘Throughout the period that we cared for Ashya and over the last few days, our only interest has been his health, medical treatment and welfare. We will continue to support any clinicians involved in his future care with advice and information.’

As reported, Ashya’s parents were arrested on Saturday in Malaga after leaving the UK with their son. They remained in police custody until Tuesday, while Ashya remained in care in a nearby hospital.

The arrest warrant was lifted on Tuesday night after the CPS decided to take no further action and the family were then reunited.

A High Court hearing will be held on Monday so the judge can outline the reasons for his decision.

THE cancer clinic in Prague has repeatedly tried to make contact with NHS officials over the possibility of offering cut-price proton radiotherapy for British patients, it has been reported.

The Proton Therapy Center said that it has received no response at all from the NHS over two years of trying to make contact. This was despite repeated attempts to make contact with the office of Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, about the possibility of sending patients to the Czech Republic.

Vaclav Lastovka, one of the co-founders of the proton centre, said he could treat British patients for less than half the price of the treatment offered by American proton centres, but has not received any meaningful response from NHS England, despite repeated phone calls, emails and letters.

Britain does not yet have its own high-energy proton centres but plans to build two – one in Manchester and one in London, by 2018.

Currently a small number of cancer patients – 122 in 2013 – are sent abroad, mostly to the US, if they qualify for treatment.

Proponents of proton therapy say that the treatment produces fewer side-effects. The Department of Health did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

AUTHORITIES will be scrutinised over the way they responded in the Ashya King case.

A review has been ordered into the way local agencies sought to protect the five-year-old and the way his family have been treated as they seek to get alternative therapy for his brain tumour.

Portsmouth Safeguarding Children Board, which seeks to protect young people in the city, will decide whether the right decisions were made.

The board will analyse information Southampton General Hospital gave to Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire police expressing concerns over Ashya’s welfare when his parents took him from a ward on August 28.

A view will be formed over the way the police used that information to seek a warrant for the arrest of the boy’s parents.

The fact the city council went to the UK’s High Court to seek a wardship order for Ashya at the request of the hospital – which made the court his legal guardian – will also be studied.

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, pictured, said the review had been requested by the authority’s director of children and adults’ services Julian Wooster. ‘I’m pleased that the board has decided to carry out a review of processes, looking at all agencies involved,’ Cllr Jones said.

‘I want to thank all the staff at the council who have responded to the ongoing crisis.

‘We acted on the details given to us by Southampton General Hospital.’

Reg Hooke, the board’s independent chairman, said in a letter to the council’s chief executive David Williams that the aim of the review is to ‘learn lessons’ to ensure future responses to similar cases are appropriate.

Welcoming the review, Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes said: ‘The public needs to know exactly what contributed to the decisions made in the Ashya case and what actions should be taken to prevent such distress in the future. I will be engaging fully with PCSB to determine the scope, detail and timings of the review.’