Charles Saatchi is out ‘to ruin me’, says Lawson

Celebrity chef says ‘the odd joint’ made ‘an intolerable situation tolerable’

Nigella Lawson arriving at court  to give evidence in the case two of her former personal assistants, Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Nigella Lawson arriving at court to give evidence in the case two of her former personal assistants, Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Thu, Dec 5, 2013, 01:59

Celebrity cook and author, Nigella Lawson, who yesterday admitted to occasional cocaine and cannabis use, has said her ex-husband Charles Saatchi is trying to “ruin” her.

The declaration came during the trial of two Italian sisters, Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, who are charged with defrauding Mr Saatchi’s company of nearly £600,000.

During a full day of evidence, Ms Lawson frequently clashed with Elisabetta Grillo’s barrister, Anthony Metzer, who was chided by Judge Robin Johnson over his treatment of her.

Allegations about her drug-taking had been deliberately circulated to London newspapers by a PR firm hired by Mr Saatchi in an attempt to destroy her reputation, the court heard.

She said she had used cocaine six times with her late husband, John Diamond, who was advised by a friend to try it after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“It was a small amount,” she said, but admitted she had wanted not to give evidence in the sisters’ trial fearing that it would be made public.

“I wanted to protect myself and I thought I would be given an unfair trial, but of course I am not on trial – only I feel like I am being treated like that,” she told the court.

The Italian sisters have alleged in trial statements that Ms Lawson was a habitual drug-user and that they were allowed “no-limit spending” in return for their silence.

However, Ms Lawson said she had used cocaine only on one other occasion, in July 2010, during a difficult chapter in her marriage to Mr Saatchi.

However, the cocaine “spooked” her on this occasion, prompting her to go to her doctor – something she did not tell her husband about at the time.

“I concluded that I did not have a drug problem, I had a life problem, and I needed to attend to that and I did seek out a therapist,” she went on.

Questioned about her cannabis use, Ms Lawson claimed she had begun smoking “the odd joint” in the last year of an increasingly troubled marriage to Mr Saatchi. She said she was admitting this with “some shame”.

“It made an intolerable situation tolerable and it was a false friend. It is not a good idea.”

Despite her desire to finish her evidence in one day, Ms Lawson will have to return to court today for a further two hours of questioning.

Photographs taken at Scotts restaurant in Mayfair showing Mr Saatchi with his hands around Ms Lawson’s throat – the incident that prompted their divorce – were not shown. Rebuking Mr Metzer, Judge Johnson said: “I’m not having photographs put to this witness”.

Ms Lawson refused to discuss the incident, saying she had given an “almost verbatim” account of it and did not intend to do so again.

Pressed later, however, she said her then husband had told “everyone that he was taking cocaine out of my nose”.

“But what actually happened was that somebody walked by with a very cute baby in a stroller and I said ‘I am so looking forward to having grandchildren’.

“He grabbed me by the throat and said ‘I am the only person you should be concerned with. I am the only person who should be giving you pleasure’. That is what happened.”

Her ex-husband had threatened that she could be sued if she did not appear to give evidence in the Isleworth trial, which was “just another form of bullying” by him, she said.