David Cameron’s ‘sympathies’ - as new image of missing Ben released

Missing: Ben Needham as he may now look as a young man. Illustration: Tris Rossin

Missing: Ben Needham as he may now look as a young man. Illustration: Tris Rossin

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THE Sheffield mum of missing toddler Ben Needham hopes new leads may finally be pursued in the search for her boy - after she received heavyweight support from the Prime Minister David Cameron.

Kerry Needham, aged 38, from Ecclesfield, has spent 20 years battling senior police and government figures to continue the search for her son, who went missing on the Greek island of Kos when he was just two years old.

Kerry has written to every prime minister, and to several members of the royal family, since her son disappeared - but has never had any success.

Now she has hope the investigation may get going again in earnest, after David Cameron pledged to fight her corner.

In a personal letter to Kerry the PM wrote: “I cannot begin to understand how devastating the last 19 years have been for you and your family and I extend my heartfelt sympathies.

“I can promise you South Yorkshire Police will have the support of the Government and our embassy in Greece in pressing for whatever information or co-operation they require.

“I am sorry you still have so many unanswered questions. I hope the efforts of South Yorkshire Police will begin to provide some of the answers.”

Kerry, who described the letter as “the most sympathetic I have received from any government”, is now hoping investigators will start following up some of the original leads that were not pursued at the time of Ben’s disappearance.

To help the search, she has issued a new picture of Ben as he might look now, aged 21, and has written to South Yorkshire Police to pass on the PM’s message.

She told The Star: “The Prime Minister’s letter was reassuring. The authorities have done very little over the years and this letter shows me they are at last taking an interest.

“I want the investigation re-opened from day one - I want the police here to look at the Kos police investigation, to see if they have missed anything.

“And I want them to get out there.”

Ben and Kerry were staying with his grandparents, who were renovating a farmhouse on the island, when he disappeared.

Over the years her frustration has mounted, as British police officers failed to visit the island and Greek police failed to follow up on leads.

She said the reason behind issuing the new picture is for Ben - who she thinks may have been sold to another family - to recognise himself.

The pictures are being distributed as part of a new online campaign to spread the word about Ben.

A new website has been developed - www.helpfindben.co.uk - and campaigners are using Twitter and Facebook.

“Obviously, it is still early days,” Kerry said. “But if the Prime Minister follows through with what he has promised I hope it might get things moving again.”