A team of South Yorkshire Police detectives have travelled to Greece as part of the continuing investigation into the disappearance of Ben Needham, who was last seen in Kos 23 years ago.
The detectives together with Ben’s family will make another public plea and reveal new information on the case to Angeliki Nikolouli and her investigative show “Light in the Tunnel,” that will air live tomorrow at 11pm on Alpha TV.
Ben, from Sheffield, was just 21 months old when he disappeared from the costal resort Iraklise on 24 July 1991.
A few years later investigative reporter Angeliki Nikolouli brought the case to the public eye in Greece and information started flowing to the authorities regarding possible Ben sightings.
Despite hundreds of reported sightings over the years, Ben, who would now be aged 25, has not been found.
In January this year, South Yorkshire Police was granted Home Office funding to support the Greek authorities in continuing inquiries to find him.
As part of this, South Yorkshire Police officers have travelled to Athens this week to participate in the TV show which focuses on missing people.
The programme, the English translation of which is ‘Light in the Tunnel’, broadcasts to around 50 per cent of the Greek TV audience.
Detective Superintendent Matthew Fenwick and Detective Inspector Jon Cousins will take part in the three hour show on Friday (15 May). It will air UK time 9pm to 11pm.
Ben’s mum Kerry Needham, his grandmother Christine Needham, and his sister Leighanna Needham, will also be participating.
Independent charity Crimestoppers have also confirmed they are offering a reward of up to £10,000 to anyone who supplies information which leads to the discovery of Ben Needham.
Ben’s mum, Kerry Needham, said: “I am hopeful that the appeal to the Greek public this week will hopefully lead to some useful information about what happened to Ben.
“I know that no-one can guarantee they will uncover what happened to my son, but knowing that the police are trying to find answers has lifted my strength and hope immensely. It means everything to me and I know that South Yorkshire Police are working with the Greek police and will do their best for us.
“My family and I will not rest until we uncover what happened to Ben and I believe that someone out there knows what happened to him – I would urge them to please get in touch with police.”
The detectives will appeal to the general public for information on Greek TV, but will also appeal directly to anyone who believes they could be Ben Needham.
Det Supt Matthew Fenwick, who is leading the inquiry, said: “Ben would be a 25-year-old adult now, so it’s important that we appeal to him too. We will ask anyone out there if they’ve ever had doubts about where they come from; if they look completely different to their family or perhaps there are no photographs of them as a baby.
“We will ask anyone with these doubts to come forward – we have a sample of Ben’s DNA, so we can easily determine whether someone is indeed Ben.
“The lives of Ben Needham’s family were ripped apart when he disappeared more than twenty years ago and their determination to find him has not diminished. They are more desperate than ever to find answers about what happened to him.
“It is likely that someone out there knows what happened to him and we will be appealing to anyone with information to come forward and tell us what they know.
“The force is working closely with the Greek authorities to ensure a number of existing lines of enquiry are explored.
“We are also hoping that the offer of a Crimestoppers reward of up to £10,000 could be an incentive for someone to finally come forward after all these years – it is not too late to tell us what happened and finally allow us to unearth the truth.”
Roger Critchell, Director of Operations for Crimestoppers, added: “Ben’s family live in hope that one day he will be reunited with them, and through offering this significant reward, we hope someone will come forward and tell us where he is.
“We will never ask for any of your details, and importantly, you’ll never have to give a statement to police or go to court. So please, do the right thing, call 0800 555 111 and tell us where Ben is so his family can make up for the time they’ve lost with him.”
The force will be using social media on Friday to appeal to the Greek public and will be sending out a series of Greek language tweets. We will be encouraging people to use #BenNeedham on Twitter.
Anyone with information should contact the Op Ben team on 01142963025 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.