Nigella Lawson can’t catch a break. According to two former assistants, television chef Lawson abused drugs, including cocaine, marijuana and prescription pills, for over a decade. The assistants appeared in a London court Tuesday for a pre-trial hearing on charges of fraud.
Lawson’s former assistants, Italian sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, claimed they were allowed to use Lawson’s ex-husband Charles Saatchi’s credit card in exchange for keeping mum about Lawson’s drug abuse. The Grillo sisters had worked for Lawson and Saatchi for over 10 years. Lawson and Saatchi, 70, are suing the sisters for stealing $480,000 of Saatchi’s money. The sisters deny any allegations of fraud.
In June, Lawson, 53, was photographed with Saatchi’s hand around her throat while dining at Scott’s, a Mayfair restaurant they often frequented together. There were several photos of Saatchi tweaking Lawson’s nose and with a hand around her throat. The photos caused a furor on social media, accusing Saatchi of domestic violence. Lawson shortly moved out of the family home, and the couple divorced a month later. Saatchi brushed their argument off as a “playful tiff,” and he was cautioned by the police.
Saatchi is not a man known for being timid. Throughout his marriage to Lawson, he was apparently controlling. Lawson made no secret of the fact Saatchi did not like her food, and was quite picky about what he ate. He is known for being “reclusive,” and does not attend the openings of his own art exhibitions.
Lawson’s former assistants claimed in court that the public argument at the Mayfair restaurant was about Lawson’s drug abuse. The sisters reportedly said Saatchi was unaware of Lawson’s drug abuse for over 10 years, over the course of the marriage, although Saatchi himself reportedly knew of his ex-wife’s drug abuse for years.
In a Telegraph UK article Tuesday, Saatchi was reportedly astounded by the depth of Lawson’s drug abuse. He apparently emailed his ex-wife, calling her “Higella” and said her daughter, Cosima (her father was the late John Diamond), was also on drugs, supposedly proffered by her mother.
The email from Saatchi to Nigella, sent Oct. 10, was fairly vicious in tone: “Of course the Grillos will now get off on the basis that you and Mimi where [sic] so off your heads on drugs you allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked. And yes, I believe every word the Grillos have said, who, after all, only stole money. You, Higella, on the other hand, poisoned your child with drugs and trashed her life. Classy!”
Saatchi, who filed divorce papers in July without telling Lawson, was apparently upset that she did not defend him in the press when he was being vilified after the publication of the “choking” photos. Lawson has not publicly spoken out about what happened the day those photos were shot, and it’s been reported she might not have left Saatchi if they had not been caught on film having that argument.
Although her former assistants claim she abused drugs, there is no ignoring that Nigella Lawson is a chef beloved by fans around the world. Her many TV shows (among them, Nigella Bites, Nigellissima, Nigella Feasts) are widely viewed. Her cheerfulness, warmth and pure adoration for food are contagious, which only enhances her popularity.
By Juana Poareo