Portsmouth council boss under fire for lack of response over Ashya King investigation

Ashya King and his mother Naghemeh
Ashya King and his mother Naghemeh
Chancellor Philip Hammond. Picture: Getty

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THE chief executive of Portsmouth City Council has been criticised for failing to respond to claims the authority is blocking an investigation.

Hilsea councillor Alistair Thompson has stepped down as chairman of the scrutiny management panel.

9/8/2012 (JN)''Portsmouth City Council were deciding on Thursday whether they will loan the Pompey Supporters' Trust �1.45million.''Pictured is: Chief executive David Williams of Portsmouth City Council walking across Guildhall Square for the meeting at the Guildhall.''Picture: Sarah Standing (-1570) ENGPPP00320120908123005

9/8/2012 (JN)''Portsmouth City Council were deciding on Thursday whether they will loan the Pompey Supporters' Trust �1.45million.''Pictured is: Chief executive David Williams of Portsmouth City Council walking across Guildhall Square for the meeting at the Guildhall.''Picture: Sarah Standing (-1570) ENGPPP00320120908123005

Cllr Thompson wants to investigate the authority’s handling of the Ashya King case, but said the council has blocked his attempts.

He has now criticised chief executive David Williams (pictured) for failing to respond to the allegations.

The News contacted Mr Williams about these claims, but he declined to comment.

Cllr Thompson said: ‘That surprises me and I think it’s a cop-out. I have to stand up for my beliefs and I’m a great believer in scrutiny.

‘I had to resign because I couldn’t compromise my own beliefs and I believe it’s a perfectly reasonable request to review how we handled Ashya’s case.

‘I’m so disappointed by this, as I wanted to see if the council could have acted in a more humane way.

‘But we are not being given this opportunity.’

As reported, the city council obtained an order making the UK’s High Court the boy’s legal guardian the day after he was taken by his parents from Southampton General Hospital.

This order was later lifted and wardship was returned to Ashya’s parents, Brett and Naghmeh King.

But supporters of Ashya said it is a ‘disgrace’ the council did not demand the legal barrier be lifted immediately after Ashya was reunited with his parents. It was still in place after they were released from a Spanish jail, having been held on a European Arrest Warrant, which was quashed.

Although he did not respond yesterday, Mr Williams had issued a statement on the subject before Cllr Thompson resigned.

He said: ‘It’s inappropriate at this time for the council to hold its own investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Ashya King case.

‘The statutory body, the Children’s Safeguarding Board, is the appropriate independent and statutory body to undertake a full multi-agency review and any separate investigation at this stage could jeopardise this.

‘The council will help facilitate this, and once complete councillors can examine the situation through their own process if they choose to do so.’