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  1. ITV Report

Mother's relief as she wins fight against Home Office to treat sick son with medicinal cannabis oil

The mother of a severely epileptic boy has won the right to treat her son with medicinal cannabis oil.

Charlotte Caldwell said they had “achieved the impossible” after Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced on Saturday he would grant a licence for 12-year-old Billy to receive the treatment.

The government, who seized the six month supply of cannabis oil that Ms Caldwell had brought into Heathrow Airport from Toronto, Canada, relented today after a six day battle.

Charlotte Caldwell had said it was "common sense" to allow her to treat her son with cannabis oil. Credit: PA

Speaking to ITV News, she criticised the “dreadful, horrific, cruel experience” that has deeply affected 12-year-old Billy, saying: “His little body has been completely broken and his little mind.”

“I truly believe that somewhere in the Home Office there’s someone with a heart and I truly believe that Billy was pulling on their heart strings,” she added.

She also called for “more humane policies”, while vowing to fight for others in the UK to have access to the medication they need.

“No other family should have to go through this sort of ordeal, travelling half way round the world to get medication which should be freely available,” she said.

“My experience leaves me in no doubt that the Home Office can no longer play a role in the administration of medication for sick children in our country.”

Mr Javid said he has used “an exceptional power” to “urgently issue” a licence to treat Billy with cannabis oil.

“This is a very complex situation, but our immediate priority is making sure Billy receives the most effective treatment possible in a safe way,” he added.

“We have been in close contact with Billy’s medical team overnight and my decision is based on the advice of senior clinicians who have made clear this is a medical emergency.”

On Monday, Border Force officials confiscated the supply of the medication used to treat Billy for up to 100 seizures a day after Ms Caldwell, 50, flew with it into the UK airport.

Ms Caldwell, from Castlederg, Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland, went on to accuse Policing Minister Nick Hurd of having “likely signed my son’s death warrant” ahead of a meeting.

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On Saturday, Billy's mother said that since the medication had been refused her son's seizures had intensified, pushing him into a “crisis situation”.

She and her team worked through the night with the Home Office and the medicine was eventually released to London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where Billy is being treated.

Former drugs minister Norman Baker described the confiscation and “inhumane”.

He said: “It is cruel and inhumane to have seized cannabis oil from the mother of Billy Caldwell as the two arrived back at Heathrow.

“The seizures the boy is now suffering are ones directly caused by the Government.

“It became very clear to me in my time as drugs minister that cannabis has useful medical properties, and indeed, that it is the only substance that works for some people, a situation widely recognised in other countries.”

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He added: “Billy should be allowed to be treated with cannabis oil without further delay and the Government should commit to changing the official categorisation of cannabis to recognise its medicinal value.”

Ms Caldwell credits the oil with keeping her sick son’s seizures at bay, saying he was seizure-free for more than 300 days while on the medication.

She added doctors in Canada and Northern Ireland familiar with Billy’s case said the situation was life-threatening.

The child, from Castlederg in Co Tyrone, started the treatment in 2016 in the US, where medical marijuana is legal.

He became the first person in the UK to receive a prescription after his local GP in Northern Ireland, Brendan O’Hare, began writing scripts.

However, there is no record of a health service prescription being dispensed.

Dr O’Hare was summoned to a meeting with Home Office officials recently and told to stop.