Nigella Lawson admitted Wednesday morning in a British court that she has used cocaine and marijuana. But she brushed off accusations of cocaine addiction as “absolutely ridiculous.” In court proceedings made public, Lawson claimed she had a “life problem,” not a problem with drugs.
Lawson, a celebrity chef and author famous for making food a sensual experience, appeared at The Crown Court at Isleworth in London to testify in the fraud case against her two former personal assistants, Italian sisters Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, who have reportedly stolen over one million dollars from Lawson and her ex-husband, Saatchi, during their employ with the couple. The former aides had worked with Lawson and Saatchi for over 10 years. Elisabetta was hired by Lawson 16 years ago, and Francesa by Saatchi in 2001.
The Grillo sisters are accused of using Lawson and Saatchi’s credit cards to buy lavish gifts and vacations for themselves. The sisters reportedly said in a pre-court hearing that Lawson allowed them to use credit cards in exchange for their silence on Lawson’s reported cocaine and marijuana abuse. Lawson reportedly told the sisters she did not want Saatchi to know she was abusing drugs. Lawson said in court she did give the sisters credit cards for purchases but not for personal use.
Saatchi himself claimed his ex-wife was abusing drugs. In fact, in a heated email to Lawson in October, he claimed Lawson and her daughter were “off your heads on drugs,” and called Lawson “Higella.” Saatchi has since retracted that statement and said he has never actually seen his ex-wife take any drugs during the entirety of their 10-year marriage.
The first occasion she used cocaine, Lawson said in court Wednesday morning, was when her late husband, John Diamond, discovered he had terminal cancer (he passed away in 2001). They took it six times together: “It gave him some escape.” The second time Lawson took cocaine was in 2010, when she “felt subjected to intimate terrorism by Mr Saatchi.”
Saatchi took the stand Friday in Isleworth Court, claiming he never meant his email to Lawson to be made public. He still loves Nigella, he said, and is heartbroken by their divorce. He reportedly said Nigella never took drugs in the home, and was busy writing her successful books. He reportedly claimed the accusations of drug abuse he made was based on “hearsay.”
Lawson is due back in court Thursday morning for cross-examination by the defense attorney.
The contentious battle between the former spouses might have some negative effect on Lawson’s career but considering her huge popularity, the negativity will probably not put a permanent dent in her career. Judging by her appearance in court Wednesday, Lawson appeared to handle herself well, even making a couple of quips in response to the defense attorney’s line of questioning. When a bank document was missing from the jury and Lawson’s papers, the defense suggested Lawson did not look at her bank statements often. This elicited a quip from Lawson, demonstrating a sturdy backbone.
After a summer of difficulty, in which Lawson divorced Saatchi after the row at Scott’s in Mayfair in June, Lawson will hopefully find closure by the end of 2013.
By Juana Poareo