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Ben Needham: £1m Kos Police Probe Shamed After 8 Hour Drinking Session

12/05/2016 09:06 | Updated 16 May 2016

The police team dispatched to Kos to investigate the disappearance of Ben Needham has been hit by scandal just days after arriving on the island.

Within hours of launching the new probe on Tuesday, officers from South Yorkshire Police, led by Det Insp Jon Cousins and Det Supt Matt Fenwick, were photographed by The Sun drinking alcohol during an eight-hour long session.

One bar confirmed the T-shirts and sandals-clad group had ordered 17 pints of beer and wine before the evening wound up at 1.24am.

The newspaper writes the 9am press conference scheduled for the next morning was 20 minutes late and lasted only 90 seconds.

A team of 10 senior officers has travelled to the Greek island as part of an ongoing search for Ben that is reported to have cost £1 million. Ben, from Sheffield was 21-months-old when he vanished on July 24, 1991.

On Thursday, one senior officer involved in the appeal - named by some outlets as DS Fenwick - had been summoned back to the UK after the pictures emerged, with South Yorkshire Police vowing to investigate the allegations. 

PA/PA Wire
Ben, from Sheffield was 21-months-old when he vanished on July 24, 1991

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: "The team in Kos have been working on investigating the disappearance of Ben Needham for a number of years.

"We're absolutely committed to this investigation and require the highest possible standards from all of those involved. The team must now get on with the important task in hand.

"Following concerns raised regarding the behaviour of some of those involved the senior officer has been recalled to the UK with immediate effect to provide the details of exactly what has happened. An internal investigation will follow."

Kevin Hogg, of the National Victims Association said: “It’s outrageous, they’re being paid public cash.”

Amy Murphy/PA Archive
Despite the scandal, Needham's faith in the force appears to be unwavering

DS Fenwick, who is also leading the Cliff Richard abuse investigation, told the newspaper on Wednesday: “We’re desperately trying to find Ben here and working really hard. We were up at 7 this morning and we’ve got officers out still now [at 8.30pm] interviewing people. What I can say is that no public money was spent on alcohol.”

DS Fenwick was a police officer on duty on the day of the Hillsborough disaster and climbed over the fence into one of the Leppings Lane pens as the tragedy unfolded at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final. He was praised for his efforts to try and help fans in distress. 

Before the pictures emerged, Ben's mother Kerry Needham said she had "every faith" in the force and described the detectives as "amazing".

But despite the scandal, her faith in the team appears to remain strong. On Thursday Needham posted a letter on Facebook from her lawyers to South Yorkshire Police, describing the decision to recall the senior officer as of "great concern" and leaving her fearing "the entire investigation is in jeopardy." 

It continues: "Please allow us to reassure you, that if there was any concern that officers were not performing their duties with rigour then there is no doubt Ms Needham would instruct me to act. The reality in the present case is that Ms Needham trusts the officers involved, believes they are working to the highest standard operationally and professionally and wishes for there to be no disruption. 

"To recall their leader is incredibly worrying for Ms Needham. In the circumstances, I am instructed to strongly encourage you not to recall DSI Fenwick. Or, if his recall really is necessary, then please make it for the shortest time possible." 

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