Heather 'muscles' in on Stella

It seems that Heather Mills McCartney can't resist following in the footsteps of her husband's late wife, Linda.

The model has upset her stepdaughter Stella - not for the first time - by agreeing to become the new face of the charity PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

Linda McCartney was one of the charity's most strident campaigners.

When she died in 1998, Stella continued her work.

Yesterday, much to the fashion designer's chagrin, her rather pushy stepmother muscled in on the act.

Miss Mills McCartney, 35, has posed for the cover of PETA's annual cruelty-free shopping guide under the headline: "Have a look that kills without killing."

Friends of 31-year-old Stella say she is angry that her stepmother, who is due to have her first child with Sir Paul McCartney next month, has chosen this particular issue to campaign on.

"There are thousands of charities out there so she is annoyed that Heather has chosen one that is so linked with her mother and herself," said one friend.

"It appears that nothing is sacred and it is proof, once again, to them that she is trying to outdo Linda."

Linda was one of the organisation's most famous patrons. She once spent £8,000 saving beagle pups destined for laboratories.

In 1996, after being diagnosed with cancer, she accepted a lifetime achievement award from the charity and an award was named in her honour when she died.

Since then, Stella has taken up the mantle.

She wrote to British Airways in PETA's name, demandingit remove leather seats from its first-class cabins and sent a letter to Tony Blair about fur farms.

Stella also presented a video for the charity, showing foxes and minks being killed for fur coats.

She regularly sends copies to celebrities who are seen wearing fur.

Ben Affleck is believed to have promised to stop buying his fiancee Jennifer Lopez fur coats after being sent one of the videos.

Stella's sister Mary is also a campaigner for the charity.

She recently photographed singer Sophie Ellis Bextor holding up a skinned fox for one of PETA's adverts.

The PETA book that Miss Mills McCartney is on the cover of lists more than 500 companies that have signed a statement promising never to test any ingredients or finished products on animals.

"We approached Miss Mills McCartney over the summer to support the guide," said a PETA spokesman yesterday.

"She gave us an exclusive photograph and this endorsement marks her first public support for our animal rights campaigns - an issue that is also very dear to her husband, Sir Paul McCartney."

The relationship between Sir Paul's children and their stepmother has always been strained. They are convinced that Miss Mills McCartney is trying to edge their mother out of his memory.

Another of Miss Mills McCartney's plans was to write a vegetarian cookbook. Linda was famous for her vegetarian cooking and even had her own brand of meals.

Also like Linda, Miss Mills McCartney has involved herself in Sir Paul's music - but she went further and told him what songs he should sing on his world tour.

The problems between the two parties became evident when Stella and her siblings refused publicly to congratulate Miss Mills McCartney on getting pregnant.

"To Stella, her mum was irreplaceable, but she feels that Heather really is trying to step into her shoes," said the friend of Stella.

"And she doesn't like it."

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