Charity to review link with shamed Tetra Pak heiress

Socialite cautioned for possession of crack and heroin faces ejection from child-drugs body she helped create
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The Independent Online

Eva Rausing, who along with her husband Hans – heir to the multibillion-pound Tetra Pak fortune – escaped with a conditional caution last week for possession of class-A drugs, faces being dumped by a British drugs charity that she helped to set up.

Trustees of Mentor UK, which works to help children to steer clear of drugs, are so concerned at the publicity surrounding the case that they will decide next month whether Mrs Rausing should remain as their patron. The move will cause huge embarrassment to the Swedish dynasty, since Mentor UK is part of an international drugs foundation established by Queen Silvia of Sweden in 1994.

Eric Carlin, the charity's chief executive, said: "Obviously we are concerned about anything that's going to be problematic for the charity. As things stand she remains a patron, but we're having a trustees' meeting on 3 September and this will be on the agenda."

In contrast, Mrs Rausing's role as trustee of the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment is set to continue. This follows a robust defence mounted by Prince Charles last week when he insisted that she deserved a "second chance".

The couple were arrested in April after Mrs Rausing was found with heroin and crack cocaine in her handbag at a party at the US embassy in London. A police search of the couple's £5m Georgian townhouse in Chelsea uncovered a £2,000 stash of crack, heroin and cocaine.

The pair had first met at a drug rehabilitation clinic in the US 25 years ago and have given vast sums to addiction charities over many years. But although rumours had persisted about the couple's continued drug-taking, it was only after their arrest earlier this year that it became public that both were addicted to crack and heroin. Shortly after her arrest, Mrs Rausing, the daughter of a senior Pepsi-Cola executive, said, "I intend to seek the help that I very much need," adding, "I am ashamed of my actions."

But the sentiment has not prevented the police from publicly attacking the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over its controversial decision to let the rich couple off with a conditional caution. A spokeswoman for the Police Federation for England and Wales said yesterday: "Cases such as these highlight that there are intrinsic weaknesses in the CPS. It is not only frustrating for police who detect and arrest crimes and criminals to then see sentencing and bail conditions undermine offences, but soft sentencing for cases can send confusing messages to the public."

And Peter Smyth, chair of the Metropolitan Police Federation, claimed: "If that had been an ordinary couple from a council estate, they would have received a far greater sanction."

Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, is writing to the Office of Criminal Justice Reform this week to outline his concerns about the use of conditional cautions for drug offences.

But Dru Sharpling, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London, insisted: "The policy and practice surrounding conditional cautions is applied consistently to both rich and poor." Under the terms of the caution, the couple will spend the next four months in a drug rehabilitation programme and submit to drug tests.

A statement from the Rausing family said: "We hope with all our hearts that Hans and Eva can overcome their addiction and we continue to do what we can to help." A spokesperson for Tetra Pak said: "There will be no comment on a private family matter."

While the couple are now receiving treatment for their drug problems, Mr Rausing remains under scrutiny by police, with inquiries continuing into allegations that he drove off after his Audi Quattro was involved in an accident in London in June.

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