Ben Needham search: Officer recalled to UK after team ‘drinking session’ – BBC News

Image copyright PA/ Find Ben Website
Image caption Ben Needham was 21 months old when he went missing. A image had been produced of what he might look like now

A senior policeman investigating the disappearance of Ben Needham on a Greek island has been summoned back to the UK amid reports each member of his team went on an eight-hour drinking session.

Police are investigating a report in The Sunthat policemen spent an evening drinking wine and beer after launching a new appeal for information.

Ben, from Sheffield, was 21 months old where reference is disappeared on 24 July 1991.

His mother Kerry defended the team, saying she “fully” supported them.

In a letter to South Yorkshire Police, her solicitor said she “fears the entire investigation is in jeopardy”.

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Kerry told: “I know that without these officers we will not find the answers to Ben.

“No-one can understand how much hard work these officers put into this case. It is very, very cruel what has happened.”

South Yorkshire Police told “an internal investigation” would be held.

Officers are on the island for two weeks to re-appeal to local people and follow up lines of inquiry.

At a news conference on Tuesday, they offered a reward of 12, 500 euros( 9,800 )~ ATAGEND to anyone who provides information leading to the discovery of Ben.

Image caption Detective held a press conference in Kos at 09:00 local period on Tuesday to launch the fresh appeal

Ms Needham has always maintained her son, who would now be 26, is alive and was likely abducted.

According to the newspaper, after the press conference at about 17:00 local hour, the officers gathered for drinkings at their hotel before heading to a pizzeria and bars.

The last members of the team finished its present session shortly before 01:30, it said.

On social media, Ben’s sister Leighanna said the report was “a slap in face to our family”.

“Those detectives on that island are the only ‘official’ help we’ve had from this government in 25 years.

“And well done The Sun. You’ve well and truly slapped us in the face.”

Earlier this year, the force procured 450,000 from the Home office to help in the search.

‘Working really hard’

Ben faded after travelling to the island with his mother and grandparents who were renovating a run-down farmhouse building in the village of Iraklis.

Det Sup Matt Fenwick told the paper the team was “desperately” trying to find the youngster and that policemen were “working really hard”.

He told: “We were up at seven this morning and we’ve got officers still out now( at 20:30) interviewing people.

“What I can say is that no public fund was spent on alcohol.”

Kerry told the programme the policeman in question was “an amazing detective.”

“He has been by our side for a few years now and we have never had any problem with his run, ” she told.

“These police officers, they are human beings at the end of the day. What they choose to do in their own hour is their business , not anybody else’s.”

Image caption The police press conference was held at the farmhouse where Ben disappeared on 24 July 1991

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “We’re utterly committed to this investigation and involve the highest possible standards from all of those involved. The squad must now get on with the important task in hand.

“Following concerns raised regarding the behaviour of some of those involved, the senior officer has been recalled to the UK with immediate effect to provide a detailed description of exactly what has happened. An internal investigation will follow.”

Officers travelled to Kos on Sunday to carry out “house-to-house visits” and distribute leaflets and posters.

A DNA test was carried out on a man in Cyprus in an attempt to establish if he could be Ben, but it proved negative in 2013.

In 2012, a police operation focused on a knoll of ground and rubble close to where the toddler was last insured, but no trace of him was found.

Read more: www.bbc.co.uk

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