Ben Needham's mum urges South Yorkshire Police to keep search team together

The mum of missing Ben Needham from Sheffield is calling for the search team to be kept together - despite allegations of an eight-hour drinking session on Kos.

Thursday, 12th May 2016, 1:34 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th May 2016, 1:36 pm
Kerry Needham

Kerry Needham instructed her solicitor to write to Chief Constable Dave Jones after a senior detective who took a police team to Kos earlier this week, as part of the probe into the disappearance of Ben on the island, was summoned to Sheffield to be grilled by bosses.

Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick is to answer questions over allegations that he and some members of his team were photographed drinking lager and wine for eight hours on the day they launched a fresh appeal for information on the disappearance of Ben, who was 21 months old when he vanished in 1991.

Ben's mum and sister, Leighanna, have both defended the police team and fear the publicity around the night out is taking attention away from the search for Ben.

Kerry is urging people to follow her lead and write to South Yorkshire's Chief Constable to ask for the search team to be kept together.

Her letter, sent by barrister, Ian Brownhill, calls for Det Supt Fenwick to be allowed to return to Kos to lead the search team.

It reads: "For him to be recalled to the UK at a stage where the investigation is so very active is of great concern to Mr Needham and her family.

"She fears the entire investigation is in jeopardy.

"If there was any concern that officers were not performing their duties with rigour then there is no doubt that Ms Needham would instruct me to act. The reality of the present case is that Ms Needham trusts the officers involved, believes they are working to the highest standard operationally and professionally and wishes for there to be no disruption.

"To recall their leader is very worrying for Ms Needham.

"I am instructed to strongly encourage you not to recall Det Supt Fenwick, or, if his recall is necessary, then to make it for the shortest of time possible.

Kerry today added: "We as Ben's family will stand by the detectives 100 per cent," she said.

"We feel the report was a cruel and insensitive thing to do at such a positive time in the investigation. My family and lawyer are in touch with the chief of police requesting the detective in charge remains on the island as he is crucial to Ben's investigation. We urge our supporters to help us in this matter."

Det Supt Fenwick stressed that the police team on Kos has been working hard and insisted that no public money was spent on the night out.

"We were hardly drinking. We're not going out and drinking loads of alcohol," he said.

“Can I just say there is no alcohol on public money.

“We're desperately trying to find Ben over here and we're working really hard."

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “The team in Kos have been working on investigating the disappearance of Ben Needham for a number of years.

“We're absolutely committed to this investigation and require the highest possible standards from all of those involved. The team 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 the details of exactly what has happened.

“An internal investigation will follow.”