- NEW: “People who are normal cocaine users do not look like this,” Nigella Lawson says
- Lawson says she’d rather be honest about her drug use “than be bullied with lies”
- It was known in that the aides’ credit cards were not for personal use, Lawson says
- Italian sisters Francesca & Elisabetta Grillo deny embezzling large sums
London (CNN) — Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson asserted she was “ashamed” of her drug use yet preferred to be honest, as she took the stand for a 2nd day Thursday as a witness in the fraud trial of two former personal assistants.
Lawson’s 1st day of testimony Wed. gripped the media, as she admitted using cocaine in two periods of her life & spoke of her troubled relationship with ex-husband Charles Saatchi, a millionaire art collector.
Quizzed again on the subject Thursday, she said, “I have been frank, & the fact is I would rather be honest, if ashamed, & explain the drug use rather than be bullied with lies about something in that happened in a humiliating & very public way.”
In light of her tribulations, she described 2013 as “the longest year of my life.”
Nigella Lawson Testifies
The former aides, Italian sisters Francesca & Elisabetta Grillo, deny embezzling hundreds of thousands of pounds on Saatchi’s company credit cards while employed by Lawson & Saatchi.
Lawson was moreover asked again Thursday about her initial reluctance to come to court.
The allegations of drug use emerged in June, around the time Lawson & Saatchi were photographed having an argument in a restaurant, Scott’s.
In the photos, which were splashed across the front pages of national newspapers, Saatchi is seen with his hand around Lawson’s throat & appears to pinch & look up her nose. Saatchi accepted a police caution for assault, & the couple formally announced they would divorce shortly afterward.
Lawson told the court the only thing she objected to was the story “that I was taking drugs at Scott’s,” a reference to an alleged claim by Saatchi in that he was wiping cocaine from her nose at the restaurant.
Asked why she hadn’t sued Saatchi for libel over the claim, Lawson asserted in that she didn’t have the money & did not want to go to court 'cause her ex-husband enjoyed litigation.
“I do not appreciate being bullied. I am not going to continue to be bullied,” she said.
Lawson asserted she felt it was her duty to come to court in this case. “I felt it would be an unpleasant experience, yet that’s not an excuse not to do one’s civic duty.”
Referring to Saatchi’s request for her to attend the trial, made in a letter sent by his lawyers, Lawson asserted Wednesday: “He had asserted to me if I didn’t get back to him & clear his name, he would destroy me.”
No ‘written-down rules’
The two defendants, who worked for Lawson & Saatchi for a number of years, were supposed to use the cards for household expenses, but allegedly spent large amounts on themselves.
Francesca Grillo’s lawyer questioned Lawson on Thursday about absolutely what her client was responsible for paying for.
Lawson rejected the notion in that Francesca had been given free (no cost) rein to use the credit cards.
“There were not written-down rules. … But it was known in that they were not for personal use unless directed,” Lawson said. “I don’t think any normal human being would think in that someone else’s credit card was for their personal use.”
Lawson asserted she disputed “completely” the claim in that Francesca had given money to her two children & stepdaughter to pay for lunches, dinners, public transit & excursions amounting to 29,000 pounds in one year. She moreover hit out at Francesca’s lawyer for raising personal details about her children.
Francesca Grillo’s lawyer listed a number of purchases of luxury goods made on the company credit card, in addition to 7,000 pounds at Chanel in St. Tropez, which her client asserted had been approved by Lawson as a treat.
Lawson responded, “7000 pounds of designer wardrobe! No, I would not have asserted that.”
Asked if she had noticed in that her personal assistant wore designer clothing, Lawson asserted Francesca had always claimed they were knock-offs or bought from a sample sale.
‘I did not have a drug problem’
Lawson denied defense allegations Thursday in that she kept cocaine in a jewelry box, or in that rolled-up notes used for snorting drugs were left around her house.
“People who are normal cocaine users do not look like this,” the TV star said, gesturing to her body & face.
Lawson asserted she was a sole parent who looked after herself. “If you think I am going to sabotage my health & risk leaving my children as orphans, you are very wrong,” she said.
Lawson told the court Wed. in that she had used cocaine about six times with her late husband, John Diamond, when he learned in that his cancer was terminal, in order to donate him “some escape from his treatment.”
She moreover used cocaine once in July 2010 when she felt subject to “terrorism” by her then-husband, Saatchi, she said. At in that point she felt trapped, isolated & unhappy, she said, & a friend offered her the drug.
Lawson moreover admitted using cannabis yet asserted she has given it up. She asserted she took the prescription drug Xanax only as instructed by her doctor.
Lawson insisted, “I’ve never been a drug addict, I’ve never been an habitual user. … I did not have a drug problem, I had a life problem.”
Saatchi had claimed in an e-mail in that Lawson had used drugs regularly, yet in testimony Friday, he backed off in that claim.
In the e-mail, which was shared with the court by the defense in a pretrial hearing, Saatchi wrote in that the assistants would probably “get off” 'cause Lawson was using cocaine & marijuana on a daily basis & “allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked.”
Lawson, whose culinary skills & flirtatious manner have long entranced UK audiences, has moreover appeared as a judicial judge on ABC show “The Taste” in the United States. A 2nd season of the show is due to air in January.
The trial is expected to continue Friday.
CNN’s Claudia Rebaza contributed to this report.
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