The Home Office has announced that funding is to be made available to investigate leads in the case of Ben Needham, who disappeared from a Greek island 24 years ago. The funding, thought to be around £600,000, will help South Yorkshire Police form a team to follow up witnesses and sightings which the family claims have never been fully investigated. The initial request for financial help was made last February - Ben's mother Kerry has been campaigning for years to get Government backing she feels has been denied to her son's case. Mark Witty reports.
Kerry Needham's battle to find her son has stretched over two decades since his disappearance in July 1991 from the island of Kos.
He vanished while his grandfather Eddie Needham was renovating a farmhouse.
There has been no sight of him since - but there have been witnesses who have placed a blonde blue-eyed boy matching his description in the care of a Greek family.
All eight of them were named in a dossier handed to South Yorkshire Police by the Needham family last year.
Kerry and her family want leads like this investigated, with co-operation from the Greek authorities.
The case of Madeleine McCann, who disappeared from Portugal in 2007, has drawn comparisons to Ben's case.
But the Needhams have always thought there was a disparity in the Government support for them.
The Home Office has funded the search for Madeleine to the tune of about £8 million after the personal intervention of Prime Minister David Cameron.
In 2012, a Home Office grant allowed the excavation of the farmhouse from where Ben went missing.
Teams including sniffer dog handlers, ground-penetrating radar operators and volunteers from Greek search and rescue failed to find any trace of Ben, whose 25th birthday was last October.
There has been a vociferous social media campaign to back the family's plea for Government help
The police team, headed by Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick, who was in charge of the operation in Kos, is due to start work in April.
For Ben's mother, the knowledge her son's case no longer has to be financed and supported solely by her family comes as a relief - but there is still anger it has taken so long to get Government support.
A little girl has taken part in a bike ride to raise money to fund the search for Ben Needham.
Five-year-old Calleigh took on the 10-mile challenge from Howdon to Whitley in the North East to highlight the ongoing search for Ben, whose 25th birthday was this week.
It took Calleigh two hours and twenty minutes to complete her challenge and she has raised more than £260.
Ben Needham turns 25 today, but he has been missing for all but two of those years after disappearing on the Greek island Kos in 1991.Read the full story ›
Kerry Needham is continuing her campaign to find her son Ben, who disappeared from the Greek island of Kos in 1991.
Next week Ben will be 25-years-old. 23 of those years he's been apart from his mum, grandparents and all his family including his sister Leighanna.
In recent years Kerry has stepped up efforts to secure funding for South Yorkshire Police to investigate leads which the family believes have never been investigated fully.
In 2012 South Yorkshire officers joined a team to excavate the farmhouse from where Ben disappeared, but found nothing. Kerry joined Gaynor and Duncan in the studio with her daughter Leighanna and the new addition to the family, Ben's niece Hermione.
It will be Ben Needham's 25th birthday on 29 October. His mother Kerry and sister Leighanna spoke to ITV's Lorraine about why they are increasingly frustrated with what's happening in the continuing search for Ben, 23 years after he went missing on the Greek island of Kos.
Twenty-three years ago today a Sheffield toddler disappeared on the Greek island of Kos leaving his family distraught, devastated and bewildered.
The passing decades have done little to change those feelings and the case of Ben Needham remains one of the great unsolved mysteries.
Today his mum Kerry has made a fresh appeal to the Prime Minister to help investigate leads and end the on-going agony.
Mark Witty has been speaking to her:
Two members of the Needham family have never met Ben who went missing 23 years ago. His mum says he would be proud of their search for him.Read the full story ›
The mother of Ben Needham has called for more government help in the search for her son, who disappeared from the Greek island of Kos 23 years ago today.
Kerry Needham says the case needs financial support to follow leads abroad:
The mother of missing Ben Needham has offered support to the McCann family while the search for Madeleine continues in Portugal.
Two years ago, an excavation of the site where Ben went missing in 1991 found no trace. But Kerry, who's currently abroad, says she knows how the McCann's are feeling.