Ian Peddie QC has been representing Neon's mother, Sally Roberts, in her fight, in the High Court and the Court of Appeal, to avoid radiotherapy and provide alternative less harmful treatment for him.
Neon is suffering from a brain tumour know as "Medulloblastoma", a life threatening tumour. Sally and her husband agreed to the original operation for the removal of the tumour. The doctors now advise that he have radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The consequences of radiotherapy include an increased risk of malignant tumours causing death, increased and significant risk of infertility, significant loss of intellectual capacity, hearing loss, increased weight and stunted growth etc. Sally is confident that there are alternative treatments but finding them is not easy.
One of the main impediments to sourcing alternative treatment, not mentioned in the press reports, is Section 4 of the Cancer Act 1939 which strictly prohibits any person advertising to treat any person for cancer or to prescribe any remedy or to give any advice in connection with the treatment thereof.
Any person who infringes the Cancer Act 1939 is liable to a fine or 3 months imprisonment. More worrying for a doctor is the risk of being removed from the GMC register. The consequence is that the layperson finds it difficult to source alternative remedies and those doctors who can assist are inhibited in making their skills known. The Act needs to be amended. There are moves to do so.
Sally is determined to do the best she can for Neon. She wants to explore all options. It was her case that as the radiotherapy is not due to start until early January 2013 she should be given until then to find any alternative remedy. It was argued that not to do so was in breach of the Article 6 ECHR right to a fair trial. The submission was rejected.