Ashya King Search: Both Parents Confirmed as Jehovah's Witnesses

The parents who took their five-year-old boy from a hospital despite him suffering from a brain tumour have been confirmed as followers of the Jehovah's Witness movement.

Ashya King was taken by his parents Brett and Naghemeh King from the Southampton General Hospital on 28 August and taken to Cherbourg in France.

Police launched an urgent appeal to help find the family as Ashya needs constant medical care. Hampshire Police warned that, if the boy is not found, his health will "rapidly deteriorate".

Ashya cannot talk, remains immobile and needs to be fed through a tube. Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead of Hampshire Constabulary said it is "vital" he is found as soon as possible as his battery-powered feeding system "will run out today" (29 August).

It has now been confirmed that the parents who removed Ashya from hospital are followers of the Jehovah's Witness movement.

Jehovah's Witnesses refuse blood transfusions on religious grounds but can undergo other medical procedures. Ashya recently had an emergency operation on his brain after he was diagnosed with the tumour.

A spokesperson for the Office of Public Information for Jehovah's Witnesses said: "We can confirm that the parents of Ashya King are Jehovah's Witnesses. However, we are not aware of the facts of the case nor the reasons for the family's medical choices, which are personal decisions.

"There is absolutely no indication, as far as we are aware, that their decision is in any way motivated by any religious convictions. Jehovah's Witnesses are encouraged to seek the best medical treatment for themselves and their children."

Police earlier said the family's religion was "irrelevant" and the priority is still finding the child.

Cherbourg Police confirmed they have joined the search for Ashya and are checking hotels and CCTV as part of the investigation.

Polcie are also appealing for people in the UK who have "friends and relatives in France and bordering countries" to assist with the search.

Det Supt Dick Pearson, of Hampshire Constabulary, said: "If we do not locate Ashya today there are serious concerns for his life.

"He is receiving constant medical care within the UK due to recent surgery and ongoing medical issues. Without this specialist 24 hour care, Ashya is at risk of additional health complications which place him at substantial risk.

"He needs to be taken to a medical facility for his urgent health requirements as soon as he is located."