A senior police officer involved in the latest Ben Needham probe on Kos has been summoned back to the UK after members of the team reportedly went on an eight-hour drinking session.
South Yorkshire Police are investigating a report in The Sun that officers spent a long evening drinking wine and beer, beginning hours after they launched a new appeal.
As officers pledged a £10,000 reward for information on Tuesday, Ben’s mother, Kerry Needham, said she had “every faith” in the force and described the detectives as “amazing”.
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.
By 5pm on Tuesday the officers had reportedly gathered for drinks at their hotel before heading to a pizzeria and bars.
The last members of the team to turn in wound up the evening at 1.24am, according to The Sun.
Earlier this year, South Yorkshire Police said they had received extra funding from the Home Office to help in the search.
Ben, from Sheffield, was 21 months old when he vanished on July 24 1991 after travelling to the island with his mother and 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 26.
Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick, one of the officers in charge in Kos, told The Sun on Wednesday evening the team was “desperately” trying to find the youngster.
The officer stressed the team was “working really hard”, adding: “We were up at seven this morning and we’ve got officers still out now (at 8.30pm) interviewing people. What I can say is that no public money was spent on alcohol.”
Detectives are reportedly due to stay on the holiday island for two weeks, although a senior officer was recalled to explain The Sun’s report to chiefs.
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said the team had been investigating Ben’s disappearance 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,” she said.
“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.”