Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced that it will withdraw the European arrest warrants for Brett and Naghemeh King, the parents who triggered an international manhunt when they removed their terminally ill son Ashya from NHS care and took him to a Spanish hospital for alternative treatment.
In a statement released this afternoon, the CPS said that it was “currently taking steps to withdraw the European arrest warrants in relation to Brett and Naghemeh King. No further action will be taken against Mr and Mrs King and we are now in the process of communicating this decision to the Spanish Authorities so that they can be reunited with their son as soon as possible.”
The Kings travelled to Spain in the hope of securing proton beam therapy for their son, who was receiving treatment for a brain tumour at Southampton General Hospital. But the child’s disappearance on Thursday sparked a Europe-wide search as doctors and police voiced concerns for his welfare. Claiming that the Kings had “taken [their son] without consent”, Hampshire police issued a European arrest warrant against the parents, who were tracked down and arrested in Madrid. The five-year-old was left alone in a Spanish hospital while his parents were remanded in police custody.
The incident provoked national uproar, as thousands of UK citizens took to Facebook and Twitter to voice their displeasure, while an online petition calling for the Kings to be released gathered nearly 200,000 signatures. Patricia King, Ashya’s grandmother, told Radio 4 that the treatment her son, daughter-in-law and grandson had received was “beyond cruelty”.
The move to withdraw the arrest warrant came after intervention by UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, and subsequently Prime Minister David Cameron. Clegg, responding to the Change.org petition, said: “A little boy is on his own in a hospital, I would like to see him with his family as soon as possible.” Following Clegg’s remarks, David Cameron told LBC radio on Tuesday that he hoped to see Ashya King reunited with his parents. He said that seeing pictures of the child had reminded him of his late son Ivan who suffered from cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
“I just hope there'll be an outbreak of common sense - and a rapid outbreak of common sense - so that the family can be re-united with this young boy and the best treatment can be given to him, either in the United Kingdom or elsewhere,” the Prime Minister said.
Meanwhile, Juan Isidro Fernandez Diaz, the Kings’ lawyer in Spain told BBC Radio 5 Live that the couple was considering taking legal action against Southampton General Hospital. He added that the Kings "wanted the very best for their child” and had "never thought that they committed any crime in the UK”.