Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Missing boy 'ignored for too long'

The grandfather of Ben Needham (pictured), who went missing on a Greek holiday island 21 years ago, said he felt his family had been let down

The grandfather of a toddler who went missing on a Greek holiday island 21 years ago has accused the Government of ignoring the case and said he feels it deserves as much support as the investigation into Madeleine McCann's disappearance.

Ben Needham was 21-months-old when he was last seen near the farmhouse where he was staying on Kos in 1991.

His grandfather Eddie said that while the case of Madeleine was subject to a multi-million pound investigation by the Metropolitan Police more than six years after she disappeared in Portugal, he feels his family has been let down.

He told ITV's Calendar: "Ben has been ignored for too long by the British Government, and previous governments.

"Madeleine deserves every help and every assistance that she can get to bring her home safely, don't get me wrong, I'm not against that, but I do believe that what's good for one is good for the other and all the other people that's missing.

"They've been given every assistance that's possible, financially and legally, whereas we've never been able to afford a solicitor."

Mr Needham said he wanted a team of officers at South Yorkshire Police to be dedicated to Ben's case.

"For the two cases to be treated totally different in my opinion is wrong," he added.

"Is is another case of the north/south divide?"

The family is urging people to sign an e-petition which needs 100,000 responses for the Government to consider whether the matter should be debated in Parliament.

The case is supported by Angela Smith, Labour MP for the Sheffield-area constituency of Penistone and Stockbridge.

A year ago, a team of British and Greek police and other experts spent two weeks searching an area of land close to the farmhouse where Ben was last seen but no trace of the toddler was found.

His mother Kerry has previously said she believes her son was was abducted to be sold through legal adoption.

The youngster vanished after travelling to Kos with his mother and grandparents Eddie and Christine, who were renovating a farmhouse in the village of Iraklise.

Over the years there have been a number of possible sightings and a range of theories about what happened to him.

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