Ben Needham: New leads in case of missing toddler after Greek TV appeal

Detectives said they were contacted by several people including several potential sightings of Ben

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The Independent Online

Police are examining new leads into the 24-year-old case of a missing toddler, who vanished on holiday in Greece.

After an appeal on Greek television last night, South Yorkshire Police said that they had received “a number of calls” in relation to the Ben Needham case.

The leads, which include potential sightings of Ben “will be looked at in detail.”

Detectives were also contacted by a man who had contacted them saying he resembled Ben, the BBC reported. Officers will now contact the man and arrange to take a DNA sample.

There have been several possible sightings of the youngster over the years and a range of theories have developed around the disappearance of the toddler, who would now be 25.

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Ben Needham's mother, sister and grandmother appeared on Greek televsion last night to appeal for information on his whereabouts (credit: Alpha TV)

Ben, from Sheffield, vanished on July 24 1991 after travelling to the island of Kos with his mother Kerry Needham and his grandparents.

Mrs Needham and Ben's grandmother Christine Needham took part in the three-hour TV show on Friday along with his sister Leighanna.

Speaking on the show last night, Ben's mother said: "Please end the pain that my family is suffering. I know he's out there somewhere.

"Please call the police and please put an end to this."

A police spokesman said that the show, which translates as “light at the end of the tunnel,” is a missing persons programme and was broadcast to around 50 per cent of Greece’s television audience.

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A digital portrait of how Ben Needham may look now released in 2013

South Yorkshire Police were granted £700,000 of Home Office funding in January, to aid their efforts to support the Greek authorities’ continued hunt for Ben. This was following its application for financial help to pursue information the family believe was never examined properly.

The Home Office backed a South Yorkshire Police operation in 2012 when land was excavated on Kos, near the farmhouse from where Ben went missing. No trace of him was found.

Last year, a DNA test on a young man featured in video footage shot in Cyprus proved negative.

Mrs Needham posted on her fundraising site: "As part of the launch of operation Ben I have arrived in Athens this morning with my family and detectives from South Yorkshire Police.

"During our five days here we will be meeting the British ambassador for the first time in 23 years to discuss Ben's case.

"Myself and family along with British detectives will be appearing on the Greek missing programme Nikolouli as well as holding a press conference with all Greek media as well as any British media who would like to attend.

"We sincerely hope this will lead to more people coming forward with new information and will help the British and Greek police investigate into the whereabouts of Ben. Once again we would like to thank you all for your continued support."

Additional Reporting by Press Association