Oh dear. Nigella Lawson, a star of ABC’s competitive cooking show, “The Taste,” was forced to admit in a London court Wednesday that she has used cocaine and pot.
The confession came during the fraud trial of two sisters who worked in Lawson’s household for years. Elisabetta Grillo, 41, and her sister Francesca, 35, are accused of helping themselves to more than $1 million of Lawson’s money to live a life of luxury that was patterned, apparently, on that of their oblivious mistress.
Their defense: Lawson, 53, allowed them to dip into her fat accounts in exchange for their silence about her drug use. Adding insult to injury: Lawson’s ex-husband, Charles Saatchi, whom she divorced after he was photographed physically assaulting her in public this year, has supported the sisters’ claims.
In an email to his ex-wife, introduced in court and printed by the Daily Mail, he called Lawson “Hi-gella” and said she and her adult daughter “were so off your heads on drugs, you allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked.”
Lawson, in turn, told the court Wednesday that she had used cocaine during two periods. She used it several times with her terminally ill first husband, who died of cancer in 2001. “It was a small amount, but it gave him some escape,” she testified. She used cocaine again, she said, during her marriage to Saatchi, in July 2010, while being subjected to “intimate terrorism.”
(Why Saatchi thinks he can win this PR war is anyone’s guess. He is playing against a master.)
It simply strains credulity that household staffers already earning generous salaries would be authorized to buy first-class plane tickets, book hotel suites and purchase designer clothes with their employer’s funds because their boss once dabbled in illicit drugs. Even if Lawson was “off her head” with drugs, as her ex-husband claimed, what kind of trusted assistants use that as an occasion to drain the boss’ bank accounts?
What seems more likely is that the Grillos got caught with their hands in the biscuit jar, and their defense attorney is trying to save them by sullying their victim, who said she has not used cocaine since the incident in 2010 and had smoked only “the odd joint” in her last year of marriage to Saatchi.
“I don’t have a drug problem,” Lawson testified. “I have a life problem.”
Anyway, if Lawson was really paying for their silence, those ladies would have had to see more than Lawson snorting a few lines. They would have had to watch Lawson debone her ex-husband and put him in a comforting stew. Which would be terrible. Just terrible.