LONDON (AP) — U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Tuesday it was inappropriate to throw the full weight of the law at a family who took their ill 5-year-old child to Spain in order for him to receive a revolutionary type of radiation therapy for a brain tumor.
Clegg told the BBC his “heart goes out” to Brett and Naghemeh King.
“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,” Clegg said.
The couple took their son, Ashya, out of Southampton General Hospital last week and traveled to Spain, where they planned to sell a property to pay at least $33,000 for proton beam radiation therapy in the Czech Republic or the U.S. The couple was arrested on a British warrant, and they are fighting extradition.
British prosecutors issued the warrant for an offence of cruelty to a person under the age of 16 years, hours after the Southampton hospital realized Ashya was gone. The Southampton hospital has said more conventional methods have a very high chance of succeeding.
“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,” Clegg said. “But that, at the end of the day, is for the police and (prosecutors) and others to decide.”
Ashya’s parents remained jailed in Madrid on Tuesday while extradition proceedings are underway, a process that could last several weeks.
The parents’ Spanish lawyer, Juan Isidro Fernandez, has said Ashya’s 23-year-old brother is with him at a Malaga hospital.
Sylvia Hui in London, and Jorge Sainz in Madrid, contributed to this report.