AFTER four agonising days, the parents of desperately ill Ashya King were being reunited with their five-year-old son.
And now they will tell their story at a press conference this morning in Seville at 10am.
In an unexpected twist last night, Brett and Naghmeh King were dramatically released from custody in Madrid just hours after British authorities dropped the arrest warrants that were keeping them apart.
They planned to travel to Seville to meet with their lawyer before heading to Malaga to be by the bedside of brain tumour patient Ashya, who has been treated in a hospital there since Saturday evening, when his parents were arrested.
The couple had been expected to be released this morning but the National Court in Madrid confirmed that a judge had decided to free the pair after British authorities dropped the case against them.
The couple were confronted with a media scrum as they walked free from Soto de Real prison to a car which was ready to whisk them away.
As Mr King got to the car he spoke of his relief to be out of custody and said that they were desperate to see their son.
He added: “We are very grateful to Spain for the support and help we have received.
“We will go to see my son as soon as possible, we have been dying to see his face for so long.
“Thank you to Spain for helping us and thank you to England too.”
He added: “I’m sorry we can’t say more, I’m very tired.”
It was a dramatic end to a day full of twists and turns that saw everyone from the Prime Minister to Hampshire’s top policeman calling for the family to be reunited.
The Crown Prosecution Service announced yesterday afternoon that lawyers in Hampshire had decided to withdraw the European arrest warrant it had initially applied for, following a review of the case.
A statement read: “In light of further evidence received by the CPS we have arranged for the discharge of the European Arrest Warrants (EAWs) in relation to Brett and Naghmeh King.
“The CPS has urgently reviewed the case and we consider there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction for any criminal offence. We have therefore decided to stop the criminal proceedings.
“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 move came following a high profile campaign for the proceedings to be dropped, which pressure coming in the form of a 125,000-signature petition and political pressure from David Cameron.
Although Ashya’s parents have been freed of any criminal proceedings, the youngster himself remains a ward of court after a separate application was made by social services chiefs in Portsmouth, where the family live.
That application was made when it was not known what the family’s intentions for Ashya’s treatment were after they removed him from Southampton General Hospital on Thursday without the consent of doctors who were treating him.
A High Court judge yesterday heard details of the issues surrounding Ashya’s treatment, which largely centred around the family’s desire for the youngster to receive proton beam treatment.
Vikram Sachdeva, for the hospital, said doctors were proposing a course of chemotherapy, but not proton beam treatment. He said that could not be provided in England – although it is the favoured option of Ashya’s parents.
The judge, Mr Justice Baker, said he would want to see the parents involved in any future hearings relating to the treatment of Ashya and then adjourned the case until Monday.
Following the hearing Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the Government was proposing to fly a top oncologist to Spain to advise the family.
Advice He said: “What we want to do is make sure that Ashya’s family get the best independent advice.
“We are arranging for an independent expert to fly if the family would like to Spain to give them advice as to exactly what the right course of action is for Ashya going forward.”
Mr Hunt said the NHS does offer proton beam therapy for children who need it and had funded 99 patients in the last year, adding: “It is not always appropriate, it is not always safe.”
When asked to comment on how the hospital handled the situation, he said it had been “an unfortunate sequence of events”.
Earlier a spokesman for University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said it had been willing to support the family’s wish to go to The Proton Therapy Centre in Prague for treatment.
They added: “While Ashya was under our care, we discussed the option of treatment in this centre with the family and made contact with them at that point.
“We were willing to support the family's transfer to Prague for proton beam radiotherapy, although we did not recommend it.”
The hospital has not responded to claims that the family were now considering legal action over their treatment.
Juan Isidro Fernandez Diaz, the couple’s lawyer in Spain, said: “They are going to prepare legal demands against the hospital in Southampton. Legal action will be against the hospital.”