On Wednesday in court Nigella Lawson answered yes to the fact that she used cocaine and smoked pot during her marriage to Charles Saatchi and no to the charge of her alleged addiction to both substances. The 53 year-old celebrity cook was testifying at the trial of her and her ex husband’s two former personal assistants who have been charged with stealing thousands from the couple.
It had been argued earlier in the year by the legal council for the two sisters who formerly worked for the couple that the presence of the 70 year-old millionaire art collector and his former wife would detract from the Grillo sisters’ trial. The legal defence team said that the 2013 high profile divorce of the former couple would overshadow the legal proceedings and harm the two sisters’ chance of a fair trial.
The residing judge declared that the publicity from Saatchi and Lawson appearing at the trial would not affect the outcome of the proceedings. However, just as the Grillo lawyers feared, media have been focussing more on the testimony of the famous couple than the actual trial.
Since the beginning of the case, much has been made of Saatchi’s agreeing with the Grillo sisters’ statements alleging that Lawson was so high on cocaine that she kept silent about their fraudulent use of the business credit card. It was said that she left the two women to do as they pleased in order to keep her drug use from her, then, husband.
Earlier in the year Saatchi was photographed in a public London restaurant choking Lawson. The art collector went to a local police station and explained that the picture was misleading and that it was a prank gone wrong. Later Saatchi claimed that he was gripping Nigella’s neck to direct her focus. Despite the millionaire’s reassurances to law officials, the couple separated immediately after the incident and quickly divorced.
While being questioned by the Grillo defence team about her drug use, Nigella Lawson stated yes to using cocaine and pot, but, no to the question of her addiction to the substances. The television cook and personality said that she started using cocaine as a form of escape from the brutal cruelty of Charles Saatchi. She explained that she did not have a drug problem but a “life problem.”
Lawson also spoke for the first time of the London restaurant incident. She claimed that Saatchi grabbed her by the throat right after she spoke of her excitement of being a grandmother. She explained that the attack was unexpected and came out of nowhere. Lawson also said that this type of behaviour by Saatchi was not unusual.
Nigella told the court that her life with the art collector had been one long episode of “intimate terrorism.” Her former husband insisted that he was “taking coke from Lawson’s nose” at the restaurant, which she denied. She claimed, under oath, that the last time she had snorted a line of coke was three years previously. That drug use was prompted, she said, by a vicious “run-in” with Saatchi.
As was feared by the Grillo sister’s attorneys the trial and its publicity have focussed on the two high profile personalities who have been testifying in the case. Saatchi in the one corner trying to prove that Lawson was to blame for the over spending by the two sisters and Lawson denying any complicity in the crime.
Nigella Lawson admitted that she began using marijuana once her marriage to Saatchi began to disintegrate and that, yes, she had used cocaine when her first husband John Diamond was losing his battle with cancer. She went on to say that no, she was not addicted to either substance and that her ex husband was attempting to harm her reputation with his allegations. The Grillo sisters’ trial continues.
By Michael Smith