Tory leader David Cameron pledged his support for beaten footballer Robert Hughes’ campaign for justice, describing the situation as one of “national importance”.

Mr Cameron met Mr Hughes’ mum Maggie to give his support following the savage attack in Malia, Crete, on June 17 which left the former Sutton United footballer, 28, fighting for his life.

Since the attack an independent witness has come forward, but British police are unable to act because it is not in their jurisdiction and no request for assistance has been made by the Greek authorities.

But Mr Cameron, who was in Sutton for a Question Time-style debate, promised Mrs Hughes he would do all he could to bring the British authorities on board.

He said: “I am extremely saddened by this case – it is appalling.

“There are problems and difficulties as the crime was committed in another country, but there needs to be more communication in this case between the Greek and British police.

“I shall do what I can to encourage that by getting in contact with the Greek authorities to get the British authorities involved."

During the meeting, Mrs Hughes told Mr Cameron the experience – which left Robert needing four life-saving operations – had left her family feeling like they were in a “dark tunnel".

As the crime was not reported within 48 hours, a legal loophole had allowed the suspects to return home.

This paper has since uncovered the men, all in their 20s, live in Horley, Surrey – just miles from the Hughes’ family home.

Mr Cameron said: “That was the heartbreaking thing – reading about how his friends had sat by his bedside as they thought that was the best thing to do.

“That’s where the 48-hour rule is so frustrating in this instance."

After the meeting, in which Mr Cameron also pledged his support to the Hughes’ Please Enjoy Don’t Destroy campaign to support families of British nationals left critically ill abroad, Mrs Hughes said she was “cautiously optimistic".

She said: “I’m very grateful for this meeting and that he’s listened to a mother’s plea.

“I’m sure he will follow through and put pressure on the Greek authorities for my son.

“It is important not just for our family, but for all the other families who will find themselves in this situation in the future."

Mr Cameron’s backing comes after Mayor of London Boris Johnson joined the fight for justice.

This week Mr Johnson said: “This is a very sad case of a crime which has so far gone unpunished.

“I have made representations to the British Diplomatic Service and the Greek authorities in the hope that they will work together and do all they can to quickly bring the perpetrators to justice."