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Ben Needham investigation boosted by Govt funds

The Government has agreed to provide £700,000 to help search for Ben Needham who vanished while on holiday in Greece 23 years ago.

Ben disappeared aged 21 months old while on holiday on the Greek island of Kos with his mother and grandparents in 1991.

Ben's mother told ITV News that the funding had been a "long time coming".

ITV News' Richard Pallot reports:

Ben Needham mother: Funding has been long time coming

The mother of missing Ben Needham has told ITV News that Home Office funding for the investigation into her son's disappearance has been a "long time coming".

Kerry Needham, whose son vanished in Greece more than 20 years ago, said the announcement was "bittersweet" as the delay in receiving resources could have "hindered us in finding Ben".

"It's been a long time coming - I was starting to get to the point where I didn't think it was going to be authorised," Mrs Needham said.

"So, it's been long and frustrating."

"I believe that one way or another they will find out what happened to him or they will find him at the end of it."

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Ben Needham family thank Home Office for search funding

The family of missing Ben Needham have thanked the Home Office for providing £700,000 to aid the search for him.

Earlier today, South Yorkshire police revealed they would be receiving the additional funds from the Government to support the investigation into Ben's disappearance.

Govt to provide £700K to Ben Needham search

The Government has said it remains committed to the search for missing Ben Needham, after confirming it is providing £700,000 to the investigation.

This Government remains committed in its support for the search for Ben Needham.

We can confirm we have offered to provide up to £700,000 in 2015/16 towards South Yorkshire Police's investigation.

This is pending a formal assessment by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.

– A Home Office spokesperson

Police hope to provide answers Ben's family 'desperately want'

Police have said they hope to provide the family of missing Ben Needham with the answers they "so desperately want".

Speaking after the Home Office granted South Yorkshire Police with funding to assist the search for Ben, who disappeared in 1991, Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick said:

Ben was a very young child when he went missing 23 years ago.

His family has endured untold pain and anguish in the years that followed and have never given up in trying to find him.

South Yorkshire Police has provided support to the Greek authorities wherever requested in assisting with the investigation. We hope that by continuing to work with them, we can assist in providing the answers Ben's family so desperately want.

We will now take time to establish the right investigation team, with a view to the inquiry commencing in April.

– Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick

Ben Needham: Home Office to fund further investigations

The Home Office has confirmed it will fund further investigations into the disappearance of Ben Needham, who went missing in 1991.

Ben Needham disappeared 24 years ago while on holiday. Credit: PA Wire

Ben, from Sheffield, vanished aged 21 months old while on holiday on the Greek island of Kos with his mother and grandparents.

South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Alan Bilings said the funding would allow British detectives to "continue to support the Greek authorities in the search for Ben Needham", who would now be 25.

His mother, Kerry Needham, has always maintained that her son is alive.

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Ben Needham: Background to the 24-year search

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.

Kerry Needham. Credit: ITV News

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.

Ben Needham's family vow to stay 'strong and resolute'

The family of missing Ben Needham say they remain "strong and resolute" as they continue their search for him after a DNA test on a young man on Cyprus proved negative.

The family who spent Ben's 24th birthday today awaiting the results of tests on a young man who has facial similarities with reconstructions of how Ben may now look.

Ben, from Sheffield, went missing on the Greek island of Kos 22 years ago, when he was a toddler.

A longer post on the campaign group's official Facebook page said the news was disappointing but their hopes of finding Ben were still strong as there are other leads currently being looked into.

Needham sister wants her DNA tested against Maria's

The sister of a child who went missing in Greece more than 20 years ago says she wants her own DNA to be tested against that of a little girl found in a Roma camp in the country in case the girl is related to her missing brother.

Sheffield boy Ben Needham was just 21 months old when he went missing on Greek holiday island Kos in 1991.

His sister Leighanna Needham, 20, never met Ben but said the discovery of the girl - called Maria - in the camp was welcome news for her family's fight for answers.

"I think that would be a brilliant thing to get our DNA out there, even if it's not actually Ben but any siblings or any children maybe of Ben [that are found] then that could hopefully lead us to him," she told Sky News.

  1. Calendar

Kerry Needham follows up new leads in search for Ben

Kerry Needham has returned home to Yorkshire after spending three weeks in Greece following up more tip-offs from the public about where her son might be.

Kerry's son Ben went missing from the Greek island of Kos in 1991 but the police search and the high-profile excavation at the farmhouse from where he disappeared, have thrust his case once more into the world spotlight.

She made the trip after new leads emerged in December, following an appeal on a live Greek show which specialises in tracing missing people. The programme showed clips from Calendar of Kerry's most testing times in the hunt for her son. She spoke to Calendar last night.

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