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Police join Saatchi Gallery row

Police have echoed the calls from the parents of a dead heroin addict to stop the Saatchi Gallery at County Hall from exhibiting a controversial image of their daughter's face by Stella Vine.

The "shock art" portrait is to form part of the gallery's "New Blood" exhibition.

Rachel Whitear became a household name in 2002 after a photograph of her dead body was used in a prominent anti-drugs campaign.

She was presumed at the time to have died from an overdose, but police re-investigating her death say her body will be exhumed next Tuesday for new tests.

"The timing couldn't have been worse for us all," said Rachel's step-father Mick Holcroft. "For the memory of Rachel and the lives of her family, we would ask that the image is never displayed."

Vine's painting shows a young Rachel, as if in a school photograph, with blood trickling from her mouth.

The gallery, opened last year by reclusive millionaire Charles Saatchi, has become synonymous with the more shocking side of BritArt, ranging from Damien Hirst's pickled sheep to Tracey Emin's soiled bed.

"It is my hope that the gallery will, for the sake of Rachel's family, respond in a sympathetic and positive manner," said Paul Howlett of Wiltshire Police..

A gallery spokeswoman told Reuters that they were considering the police request but had not yet made a decision.

Artist Stella Vine told ITV's Westcountry News: "I'm sorry that I've upset a lot of people – I'm really sorry about that it was never my intention and unfortunately never my thought – it was instinctive and intuitive and I think it was a good decision to do it".

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