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'The situation is not right': Police chief's full statement on Ashya King case

Brett King and his wife Naghmeh are being held by Spanish police.

The head of the police force which applied for a European Arrest warrant against the parents of child cancer patient Ashya King has written a statement explaining the circumstances around the decision, and why the continuing separation of the couple from their child is "not right".

The letter by Hampshire Police chief constable Andy Marsh has been copied to agencies including the Crown Prosecution Service, the Foreign Office, the Home Office and Southampton General Hospital.

Below is a copy of the statement in full:

Dear colleagues,

At 2000 on Friday 29 August Southampton General Hospital approached Hampshire Constabulary to report that five-year old Ashya King had been missing for six hours.

Evidence from medical experts was presented to us that gave us significant reason to be gravely concerned about Ashya's life-threatening medical condition and the background to the breakdown of the relationship between the family and medical staff that resulted in Ashya being removed from the hospital without them being made aware.

The search for Ashya began immediately and evidence demonstrated that his parents had taken him out of Hampshire and to continental Europe.

At this stage Ashya's exact whereabouts was not known. His parents were not contactable and it was not known whether or not his parents had the ability to provide appropriate medical care. This remained the case until Ashya was found in Marbella, Spain, 48 hours later.

Hampshire Constabulary has no jurisdiction in continental Europe and in order to make sure that we were doing everything that we possibly could to locate Ashya, we applied to the Crown Prosecution Service for a European Arrest Warrant.

That application was based on the medical advice received. We knew that if granted, this warrant would enable us to engage other police forces from across Europe in the search greatly increasing the likelihood of success.

The evidence that we presented was assessed by the Crown Prosecution Service and the European Arrest Warrant was awarded by a judge on the strength of the medical evidence and the level of concern for Ashya's safety.

There can be no doubt that the European Arrest Warrant was critical to find Ashya and as Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead made clear in his statement on Sunday, Hampshire Constabulary makes no apology for being proactive. We would far rather face criticism for acting proactively than not and risking a child's life.

Hampshire Constabulary also remains committed to supporting Portsmouth City Council in their lead role in ensuring the appropriate safeguarding Ashya. We will also full support the CPS if they decide prosecution is appropriate in this case.

The situation today is different. Since they have been found, Ashya has been taken to a hospital and is receiving medical care and Ashya's family have released information into the public domain that they did not choose to make available during the search period.

It is my view as Chief Constable that the situation today is not right. Irrespective of what has happened it is our view that Ashya needs both medical treatment and for his parents to be at his side. Our intent was to secure his safety not to deny him family support at this particularly challenging time in his life.

As you will be aware, Ashya's parents opposed extradition and are in custody in Spain, where they could potentially remain for some time.

I have no jurisdiction on what happens to them, their rights of access, the arrest warrant or the care order. It is my view that we need to stand back and ask the question; what can be done quickly to achieve the best for Ashya? This needs to be the right balance between ensuring that he continues to get the best medical care and to enable his family to be with him at what must be a very difficult and scary time for a little boy who, potentially, has limited time.

If there is anything that I can do to help make this happen, I will work with you to do that.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Marsh Chief Constable

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