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TV Chef Nigella Lawson Arrives At Court For Trial Of Personal Assistants

posted 4 Dec 2013, 08:43 by Mpelembe   [ updated 4 Dec 2013, 08:44 ]

TV chef and presenter Nigella Lawson gives evidence in the fraud trial of two of her assistants at a court in London.

ISLEWORTH, LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (DECEMBER 4, 2013) (REUTERS) -  Television chef Nigella Lawson arrived at a London court on Wednesday (December 4) to answer questions about two of her former personal assistants accused of fraud.

Sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, who worked for Lawson for more than a decade, are accused of using credit cards given to them by Lawson and her ex-husband Charles Saatchi to spend more than 685,000 pounds on themselves over four years.

Last week, the two sisters alleged as part of their defence that Lawson was a regular user of cocaine and other drugs.

Lawson, often nicknamed the "Domestic Goddess" after the title of one of her best-selling recipe books, is a cookery author who is popular in Britain and the United States.

Lawson's ex-husband, millionaire art dealer Charles Saatchi, told the court on Friday (November 29) he had no proof that she ever took drugs.

Saatchi and Lawson ended their 10-year marriage in July, and he accepted a police caution after newspapers published pictures of him with his hands around his ex-wife's neck at a Londonrestaurant a month earlier.

On Friday he said he had never seen any evidence of Lawson ever taking drugs.

Saatchi's testimony contrasted with an e-mail dated October 10 that was read out to jurors in which he accused Lawson of being "off her head" and referred to her as "Higella".

"I can only laugh at your sorry depravity. Of course now the Grillos will get off on the basis that you ... were so off your head on drugs that you allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked," the e-mail read, referring to the two PAs by their Italian surname.

Saatchi explained the discrepancy by saying he was upset at the time he wrote it.

The Italian sisters deny the accusations and their lawyers have claimed that there was a "tacit understanding" that the sisters were allowed to spend what they liked as long as they didn't tell anyone about Lawson's alleged drug use.

The court has been told by the prosecution that in the four months to June 2012 alone, Francesca Grillo, 35, spent an average of 48,000 pounds per month and 41-year-old Elisabetta 28,000 pounds.

At various times, the court has heard, the sisters spent lavishly on flights to New York, hotel stays, designer handbags and expensive clothes.

When Saatchi learned the amount the Grillos were spending, he said he thought they were being "naughty" and should accept penance for their actions.

He told the Italian sisters they could pay back the money they owed by accepting a 50 percent wage cut and continuing to work for the family but said his then-wife disagreed.

Lawson, who appeared as a witness on Wednesday, told the court that the allegations of drug use were false.

The trial continues.