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Monday, 31 October 2011

charity worker employed by one of David Cameron’s Big Society gurus has been arrested on suspicion of smuggling cocaine with a street value of £120,000

charity worker employed by one of David Cameron’s Big Society gurus has been arrested on suspicion of smuggling cocaine with a street value of £120,000 into Britain.

Former US gang member Derrick ‘Anthony’ Mitchell was held at Heathrow this month after UK Border Agency officers allegedly discovered 3kg of drugs in his luggage. 

Mitchell, 37, is a duty manager at the South London-based Kids Company founded by charity boss Camila Batmanghelidjh. She set it up in 1996 to care for abused, neglected or  abandoned children in London’s inner-city communities. 

She has been described as ‘Britain’s most colourful charity leader’ because of her style, dress sense and selfless approach to charity work. 

The award-winning author and campaigner was invited  to 10 Downing Street last year. 

She also advises former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and is thought to be one of the inspirations behind Mr Cameron’s pledge to ‘hug a hoodie’. 
Ms Batmanghelidjh spoke of her shock at the allegations surrounding Mr Mitchell, whom  she described as a ‘street-level youth mentor’.

She said: ‘Obviously, because the judicial process needs to take place, we cannot legally comment. The only thing I can say is that the alleged incident took place while he was on holiday in his own time.

‘At this stage I do not know enough to know the full details. But as a worker, he gave exceptional commitment to the kids over a number of years and I can never take that away from him. 

Pledge: David Cameron's Big Society aims to 'take power away from politicians and give it to people'

Pledge: David Cameron's Big Society aims to 'take power away from politicians and give it to people'

As an organisation, we employ a range of people and a lot of them have had challenging backgrounds as children and we have given them chances. The majority of them go on to do incredibly well.

‘In the situation of this individual, if what is alleged has occurred, he has made an abhorrent choice and I do not agree with it.’ 

Camila Batmanghelidjh said she was shocked at the allegations surrounding Mr Mitchell, claiming he gave 'exceptional commitment to the kids'

Camila Batmanghelidjh said she was shocked at the allegations surrounding Mr Mitchell, claiming he gave 'exceptional commitment to the kids'

Mitchell, of Camberwell, south London, was arrested at Heathrow on October 6 and remanded in custody by Uxbridge magistrates the next day. He will reappear in court in the next month. 

The university undergraduate has previously spoken of deciding to rebuild his life after leaving a violent street gang in Miami.

He claimed he had earlier sold drugs and lost a family member to violence at the age of 19 when his sister bled to death after being stabbed in a leg.

After coming to Britain in his 20s, he began working with the charity about five years ago, attempting to convince youths in gangs to turn their back on crime. 

Kids Company operates from three centres in Southwark, Lambeth and Camden in London, as well as working in 37 inner-city schools.

It employs more than 600 people in full and part-time roles to reach out to 14,000 children from the capital’s most deprived and crime-ridden areas. 

Many of the youngsters live with  parents who are unable to care  for them and have had severely troubled lives.



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