Father to take legal action against police after being dragged from dying daughter's hospital bed

The violent arrest of Dr Rashid Abbasi was captured on a police body cam

A father who was dragged from the hospital bedside of his terminally ill daughter is pursuing legal action against the police, claiming wrongful arrest.

Dr Rashid Abbasi, a longtime NHS respiratory consultant, was arrested by police when he refused to leave his six-year-old daughter's bedside shortly after being informed that doctors were planning to withdraw life support without the family's consent.

His daughter Zainab suffered from the rare genetic illness Niemann-Pick disease. She died last September, shortly before a hearing had been due to take place on the removal of her life support.

Shocking footage of the arrest was captured on a police body cam, with Dr Abbasi saying he later suffered a heart attack. 

In the video, his wife can be seen falling to the floor at one point in the ensuing struggle, and screams at officers to stop hurting her husband. 

The incident occurred at a hospital in the north of England which cannot be named for legal reasons.

Dr Abbasi is being helped by the Christian Legal Centre, which also supported the parents of Alfie Evans.

"We have lost our daughter Zainab, but we want to take action for future Zainabs so that no one else has to go through what she did and what we have," he said. 

Dr Abbasi is calling for an independent investigation into his arrest.

"I reacted as any father would who is suffering from grief, but I also knew in my professional capacity that my daughter was purposefully not receiving the treatment she needed to live," he said. 

"For challenging this and trying to protect my daughter's life, I was treated like a criminal and an animal. This was brutal and unacceptable, but we want to emphasise that it was the doctors and the hospital who escalated the situation and involved the police unnecessarily.

"Ultimately, this story is about life and the value the NHS places on life and the wishes and rights of the parents involved.

"We are still grieving deeply, but we have no choice but to expose what has happened and to fight for justice for our daughter." 

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said she was "appalled" by the incident.

"Why is it that time and time again when parents resist end of life treatment being imposed on their children, the police swiftly appear?" she said. 

"We are living in a culture of death, and when our society and frontline services unilaterally decide that death is in a child's best interest, and the parents are left powerless in the face of the 'system', it has to be exposed.

"We will stand every step of the way with families at the point when they have needed compassion and support most but have received the opposite. We will help the Abbasi family to seek justice."