Hans and Eva Rausing must be a lovely couple. Charming, in fact. Possibly the most lovely, charming and persuasive people you could possibly meet. We are sure the charm isn't derived from the fact that they happen to be very well-off, being the heirs to a £5bn fortune (Hans's father owns Tetra Pak, the huge food packaging business).
Their charm seems to have reached an almost ludicrous level in Horseferry Road Magistrates' Court this lunchtime. It seemed a straightforward case - the couple had been caught harbouring Class A and Class C drugs at the US embassy in London's Grosvenor Square. In follow-up searches, further drugs were found at their home. Now - we're not talking a small amount of cannabis here - the initial search revealed 10g of crack cocaine and 2.5g of heroin, and at their home the police found 50g of cocaine to add to their haul.
So, as the Hans and Eva today sat and waited for the court's verdict, they must have known that the current context in London can't have looked good for them. We all know that the Met Police stance on these drugs has stiffened of late, with our very own commissioner calling for jury trails and tough sentences for those that are caught.
And yet, all of a sudden, the case today was discontinued, and the pair accepted a mere caution as part of a deal.
A caution. A slap on the wrist. How come? Do all people found with Class A drugs of this sort find themselves let off so lightly? At best this makes a mockery of the police's push on these crimes. At worst it looks like the law isn't being applied fairly across different society groups. There seems no doubt of the facts of the case, and the judge recognised the public interest by making it clear that it wasn't his decision - but that of the prosecution, the CPS, to cut a deal and end the case. Now what on earth has happened? How did they turn the charm on? Was there some dodgy deal - and if so, what was it?
If you dig deeper, the unsavoury nature of these people really begins to show with reports of them refusing to stop after a car crash and their firm making suspicious payments to corrupt Italian conglomerate Parmalat that almost collapsed after a €14 billion fraud.
The charm's worn off. It all makes you think twice about what's inside that carton of semi-skimmed, doesn't it?
US Embassy pic from Vertigogen's Flickrstream