Ben Needham’s mum issues direct appeal to find him

(ITV NEWS) A major appeal is to be made on Greek television by both South Yorkshire police and the family of Ben Needham to try and find Ben who vanished as a toddler on the holiday island of Kos almost 24 years ago.

The detective leading the new – year long inquiry – into his disappearance will be alongside Ben’s mother Kerry, grandmother Christine and sister Leighanna in Athens on Friday night to make the appeal.

Also travelling to Greece to appear on the programme will be Calendar’s producer Mark Witty who has made a film which will be shown to millions on Friday. ITV Yorkshire and “Light at the end of the Tunnel” have co-operated considerably since the 20th anniversary of Ben’s disappearance in 2011.

Appeals made by the show, with Calendar’s help, have brought forward a number of people with information. Some of the people who contacted the programme are being contacted by South Yorkshire Police as part of Operation Ben.

Ben, from Sheffield, was 21 months old when he vanished on July 24, 1991 during a holiday on the Greek island of Kos with Mrs Needham and his grandparents.

Over the years there have been a number of possible sightings and a range of theories about what happened to the youngster, who would now be 25.

Last month, the Home Office agreed to fund a team of British detectives to help search for the youngster after Ben’s family engaged human rights barrister Ian Brownhill to help them.

South Yorkshire Police asked for the financial help to follow up information the family believe has never been properly investigated.

The funding is for the financial year from April 2015 and is for up to £700,000.

Ben’s family have said they want South Yorkshire Police to investigate leads, including a file they have handed in that lists eight separate sightings from unconnected people of a boy who could potentially be Ben with the same Greek family.

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 the boy was found.

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